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One of the things we love to do as a family is gardening, particularly growing a little bit of our food. It’s so great for kids to see where food comes from, to be invested in its growth and to get to have the experience of eating a fresh-off-the-plant strawberry (so long as the squirrels don’t eat them all first).
If you’ve never gardened with your kids before, it’s super easy to get started. Here are some of my tips for making the most of the experience.
If you haven’t gardened before, or are new to gardening with kids, it’s good to start with a small garden patch or even just a few containers in the beginning.
This way the work aspect of gardening isn’t too overwhelming for you or the kids, but you still get some pretty flowers or delicious vegetables (or, hopefully, both) for your efforts.
Last year was the first year the girl was really old enough to participate in the garden, and we made a little raised bed and let her decide what to plant — strawberries, lettuce and broccoli.
Those things will all come back this year, as well as some more herbs, flowers, pea pods and tomatoes (that’s all that’s planned so far, but we’ll see). Being involved in the process from the beginning means they’ll be interested in helping from the beginning, too.
It’s nice for them to have something that’s theirs, in that they chose what to plant and planted it themselves. Older kids can be in charge of watering, weeding, harvesting and even preparing their special item, too.
This is a tip for getting a garden started with younger kids. If you’re planning to do some planting, get all your plants, seeds, containers and soil if needed and other supplies gathered and set up before you invite the child to help you.
That part of gardening isn’t as fun as the playing in the dirt part, and they’ll be more enthusiastic about helping if they can get right to the fun.
One of the great things about growing plants, whether for food or otherwise, is getting to watch how they grow and change. Especially when you plant seeds, it’s fun to watch for the first little sprouts, see how they grow leaves and eventually get big enough to flower and make fruit.
This of course offers plenty of teaching opportunities, too, from talking about how plants grow and measuring rainfall in a rain gauge to drawing plants, weighing tomatoes and reading and following recipes when you prepare your bounty.
Eat Straight Out of the Garden
One of the simple joys of life is eating food fresh from the garden, raw and still warm from the sun. Let your kids do it, and let them see you do it, too.
It’s fine to wash things if you’re not interested in eating dirt, but consume the goodies outside. There’s nothing like it.
And if you need to get clean after garden chores but before eating your harvest, it’s a great idea to have an easy way to clean up on hand.
PURELL® Hand Sanitizing Wipes are a great option for getting the dirt and germs off whenever you’re playing outside or on the go. These wipes, available on the cleaning aisle at most Walmart stores, are just like regular wipes except they clean and sanitize hands without alcohol when you’re on the go or in the garden.
They’re safe to use on hands and faces, are cottony soft and the 35-wipe container (they’re also available in a 70-count, in unscented and Fresh Scent varieties) fits in a standard car cupholder, so they’re easy to keep handy and use on the go. And you can get a coupon for $1 off a container of PURELL® Hand Sanitizing Wipes now.
Make sure to check out Purell’s loyalty program, too, which allows you to earn points for coupons, free product and gift cards.
We keep a container on the back deck to clean up after working in the garden and before going off to play or having a snack, and it’s nice to know we don’t have to stop the fun and go inside to go wash hands to get clean.
How do you involve kids in gardening? I’d love to hear your tips and what you’re planting this year!