Tending To My Patch: Kids and Gardening

Gardening can be an introduction to the many ways children can interact with plants and the outdoors. There are few things children enjoy more than digging in the dirt and making mud pies. They are fascinated by looking for worms and bugs and love to water the garden and anything else in the near vicinity.
A child’s garden should be about the excitement of discovery in a world that is always changing. Gardening is a wonderful training ground, teaching children botany, agriculture and the life cycle of plants and insects while helping them to develop a sense of responsibility and accomplishment.
There is a wealth of educational experience locked in a little piece of dirt and a few plants. Many children have learned about seasons, plant physics, and insects. They practice math and reading, measuring and calculating. Many small gardeners have potential to develop good work ethics. Most importantly they have fun. The hours of entertainment that comes from digging, gathering worms and collecting bugs are immeasurable. Gardening reinforces ecological lessons, from effects of weather on plants to the relationships between plants and insects. There are many ways we can encourage children to garden by planting fun flowers and plants especially just for them. Emphasize the rewards of gardening. Parents, grandparents and mentors can promote positive thinking, and by doing so can help raise the confidence and self esteem of their small gardening friends.
Kids need to have a space to call their own, but keep the size manageable so the child does not become overwhelmed. Section them off their own little garden plot. Let them choose what and where they want to plant. After the site has been chosen, it is a good time to talk about what is required for a successful garden. Teach the young gardener that growing a healthy garden begins with good soil. Explain that plants, just like people, need to eat and drink. Make sure that the chosen spot gets enough sun and has a readily available source of water. The garden should be located where is easily accessible to the child and can be admired by others. Allow them to play gardener. Your child’s garden can include flowers and vegetables.
The rich rewards of gardening can last a lifetime. Become a garden facilitator for a child and do what you can to create a positive experience. Then stand back and let nature work its magic.
Get the kids in your life hooked on the joys of gardening.