Us gardeners all want to inspire the kids in our life to join us in our gardening and seed saving passion.
Here are five proven ways to encourage kids to get their hands dirty with you!
1. MAKE IT THEIR OWN.
Giving kids ownership of at least part of your garden is a great way to pique their interest. A dedicated garden bed just for them is an excellent idea.
Keep an eye when they’re planting so if needed you can assist later to be sure what they planted will grow (pressing the seeds down to the correct planting depth, watering afterwards, etc… see “pick up the slack” below).
Give them their own tools, such as a gardening trowel or this Seed Saving Kit.
If you are short on space, give them total ownership of some activities. For example, let them plant the seeds. Let them do it all on their own. Give them a few options of varieties you know will grow during this time of year, and let them choose what to plant.
Kids LOVE planting… it’s a great introductory garden activity to inspire them!
2. ENGAGE WITH THEM. REALLY, COMPLETELY ENGAGE.
Many activities in the garden can feel like chores to kids. But, if pulling weeds means meaningful connection with you, it’s on. True engagement will win kids over like nothing else.
You want kids to understand that garden time = fun time connecting with you. If this is their understanding of the gardening experience, it won’t matter what you do together in the garden. It’s the together part that they’ll love and want more of.
3. PICK UP THE SLACK.
Let kids plant the seeds on their own…
It’s up to you to make sure they grow.
This means that it is your responsibility to ensure that the seeds are planted at the right depth. You’ll also need to keep on top of watering, at least until the seeds sprout.
If the seeds they plant never grow, a major part of the magic is gone and a disheartened little gardner might be less enthusiastic to join you next time.
4. LET THEM HARVEST.
Anything… especially flowers or seeds or dinner.
Let them pick a bouquet for mom or dad or teacher all on their own. Let them harvest dry pods from your bean plants. Harvesting is the grand payoff, and one of the more fun activities to hand over responsibility to a child.
5. DON’T BE PUSHY.
Lead by example. You love gardening. Let your young ones see this.
Give them the option to join you in the garden. If they know they will have some ownership or responsibility, or true engagement with you they will no doubt be by your side. Pushing a child to garden is the best way to turn them off of truly enjoying it.
Starting kids gardening at a young age is a great way to foster a connection with the natural world, inspire curiosity, and spend quality time outdoors together with you!
Here’s to the next generation of gardeners and seed savers!
(author: Justin Huhn, organic farmer & seed grower, founder of The SeedKeepers)