There are a number of ways to interest children in gardening.
- Find children’s books about gardening and read them together.
- Go through seed catalogs to let children choose exactly what they want to grow (it helps to include plants that are easy and fast-growing).
- Decide where to put the garden and individual plants; let them draw a picture of what they want the garden to look like.
- Start plants indoors using recyclable containers like egg shells, egg cartons, yogurt or cottage cheese containers, etc.
- Let children draw pictures of each plant on an index card; laminate and attach to popsicle sticks as row markers.
- Help the child keep a journal: what and when you planted, insect or weed problems, etc. Start taking snapshots early on the adventure.
- Help, but don’t do everything for them; help only where they cannot (insect control, watering, feeding, fertilizing).
Finally, it will be time for children to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Help them look through some of your recipes or find new ones to sample the crop. Let them help cook where possible. Encourage them to give excess away and can or freeze some, too enjoying the food in the off-season will be a confidence booster.
During the non-gardening season, children can still garden indoors in containers, discover planting songs, create skits, make-up crossword puzzles, or write a story about their gardening experience. Frame their initial garden drawing to hang on the wall or make a scrap book of the artwork, stories, pictures, and snapshots that tell of their exciting adventures in gardening.
Ne Chichester, former Smith County Master Gardener
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service