Start some gardening traditions with your kids. Give them their own garden patch and a spot to dig. Children love getting their hands dirty and watching things grow.
Be sure to buy good quality, child sized gardening tools. Plastic toy versions just won’t hold up to the task. You will also need children’s gloves and a watering can.
Mark off the garden area and turn the soil. Kids can help break up any lumps with their hands. Work in some organic compost.
Choose seeds that will grow quickly. Small children get impatient if their plants take too long to sprout. Radishes, Snapdragons, Cosmos, and Sunflowers will all germinate quickly. Carrots and strawberries are also easy to grow- and yummy to eat.
Large seeds like beans and Morning Glories are easy for small fingers to push into the ground. You can start your seeds indoors in an eggshell carton. When the seedlings are an inch high, tear off the egg carton, and leaving the soil intact, transplant the seedlings outside.
Or, try placing beans on a wet paper towel inside a zip top bag. Tape the bag to a sunny window and wait for the seeds to germinate. I can remember, as a child, checking my beans every morning before school. The first shoots appeared to my delight and we carefully transplanted the beans outdoors.
Make garden markers by painting small rocks. This will help kids keep track of their selections.
Make it fun! Grow a sunflower house by planting the sunflowers in a circle with a space in the middle big enough for your kids to hide. Be sure to leave room for a door.
Grow a spaghetti garden. Plant herbs such as basil, oregano, rosemary, and parsley. My kids love to snip fresh herbs. They stuff their pockets full of scented “spaghetti” herbs.
Share your garden with butterflies and hummingbirds. Zinnias, Verbena, and Cosmos are butterfly favorites. Hummingbirds love the nectar from Nasturtium and Lantana, and Hollyhocks.
Children love to pick up bugs and worms. Poke holes in the top of an old jar. Add some dirt and a few, new found specimens. Be sure to release the critters back into nature after a few hours.
Arm your kids with cameras to take photos throughout the summer. They will enjoy remembering the fruits of their labor. And, the pictures will help your budding gardener plan for next year.
Happy planting. And, don’t forget to pick a few bouquets for mom.
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About the Author: Rondi Hillstrom Davis is the co-author of the award-winning book Together: Creating Family Traditions. To check out her website that's jam packed with family ideas, visit http://www.togetherparenting.com