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Peace in Gardening Series: Gardening with Kids

In this time of social distancing, we are all spending more time at home. This ‘extra’ time has encouraged many folks to re-evaluate the current state of their home garden. Whether you are an avid gardener that got too busy with work, or a first-time gardener, we have the resources you need. This series of blogs contains resources for planning, starting and maintaining a backyard (or front yard, if HOA rules allow) vegetable garden. The series will be broken into the following:

  • Introduction
  • Getting Started
  • Gardening with Kids
  • Maintaining a Successful Garden
  • Edible Landscaping
  • Using What You Grow
  • Recycling What You Can’t Use
  • Community Connection
Personal Reflection

March 13, 2020 was the last day that felt like a ‘normal’ day. Since then, schools closed, offices closed and work from home orders began trickling in. At this point, I have been working from home with two children under five, for over a month. Two things have become abundantly clear; letting go of previous expectations is necessary and my kids’ happiness/sanity is more important than answering ‘that email’. I have reworked my daily schedule, specifically setting time aside for gardening, biking and otherwise being outside.

I have many fond memories of gardening as a child. I distinctly remember the feeling of seeds running through my small hands in a large bin at the garden center where my mom worked and being amazed by the large zucchini that my grandfather grew in his backyard garden. There was nothing intentional about the way I learned to garden, but rather a series of experiences that each brought a feeling of warmth.

It is essential now, more than ever, to share these small experiences of warmth with our loved ones.

Tips for Gardening with Kids:
  1. Make it tactile
    1. Find activities that stimulate all five of their senses.
      1. Plant herbs such as; fennel, mint and rosemary
      2. Encourage them to feel the seeds and soil
      3. Explore colors and textures with interesting foliage plants like coleus
  1. Make it simple
    1. Ask them to use a pencil to poke holes in the soil for seeds
    2. Ask them to drop seeds into the holes
    3. Have them water plants with a small watering can
  2. Don’t underestimate them
    1. They will ask questions
      1. Don’t brush them off, if you don’t know, look it up
    2. Let them use tools
  3. Don’t squirm at worms
    1. Children learn first by mimicking our actions, keep a brave face
    2. Show compassion
  4. Let them eat the ‘fruits’ of their labors
    1. Even if they pluck them a bit too early
    2. Eating fruits and vegetables now encourages healthy eating habits later

The University of Florida and several of its partners have a wealth of resources for activities to encourage you and your children to get out into the garden.

Resources:

Junior Master Gardener: http://jmgkids.us/

Gardening with Kids: https://kidsgardening.org/lesson-plans/

Project Learning Tree: https://www.plt.org/

Project WILD: https://www.fishwildlife.org/projectwild