Each year, when the weather begins to get warmer, my kids start asking about our garden! Planning, planting, and then taking care of our garden has become a regular part of our life at home. Gardening is a lot of work and requires a big commitment. Many wonder why we take on this task with small children. My husband and I have found that our garden is very beneficial to us and an important part of our life at home.
We enjoy gardening, and love the food we grow. Also, we enjoy including our children in the whole process of gardening, from planning to picking. Do you wonder if gardening with your kids is worth it when you are so busy already? I want to share with you why we do what we do and how we make it work for our home. For us the benefits are worth the time we spend!
Take advantage of the learning opportunity!
One big thing I realized is that our homeschool and gardening really don’t need to be managed separately. Everything about gardening is a learning opportunity for kids. When spring comes I just add our garden plans into our school plans. Yes we still do our reading, math, and other subjects. However, if there are things to do for our garden we add it to what we are doing that day, and teach our kids through it.
When it’s time to start some seeds indoors the kids learn about how plants grow from seeds, and need soil, water, and light. They learn how we use a grow light to replace the sun that plants would get outside. Instead of just learning these things from a book they get to experience it. They get to watch their own plants grow from a tiny seed. I love seeing how excited they get when the seeds first start to sprout.
This year I added even more to our lessons when we started seeds. Instead of buying seed starting pots and trays, we tried a DIY method I found on the blog Dabbles and Babbles. All you need is some newspaper, a can, some tape. We saved some money and got my kids even more involved in getting our seeds started. This is what our process looked like:
We had a lot of fun making our own seed starting pots. Through this I was able to teach the kids about recycling and how the newspaper is biodegradable and will decompose in the soil! For more details about how to make these pots yourself I recommend check out the Dabbles and Babbles blog page!
After we had made enough pots we got dirty! This is definitely my kids favorite part! They help fill our pots with seed starting mix, plant the seeds, water, and label our soon to be plants! This year I also made our own plant labels that I cut out and laminated. We like to plant a variety of different tomatoes and peppers every year. In past years, I labeled my plants on popsicle sticks and the labels always ended up fading! Hopefully, by laminating these labels, I will still be able to read them when it comes time to plant them in the ground in a few months!
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If you would like these labels for your own plants, make sure to click on the link to print your own free copy. Look for a link to this at the end of this post. I plan to print more of these when we plant outdoors!
Teach your kids responsibility!
My boys are just 2, 5, and 7 and we believe learning about responsibility should be started as early as possible. Having a garden gives us a lot of opportunities to give our kids responsibilities. Because we include our kids in the process of planning and planting our garden, our kids really feel like it’s their garden! One of my kids’ responsibilities is to water our seedlings. They ask everyday to check on their plants and water them. I love that my kids are proud of their garden.
Even though the things they are doing are actually “work” or “chores” they want to do it. They want their garden to grow and know they have to take care of their plants to see it happen! Even my 2 year will be able to join in and “help” this year. A spray bottle is a great way to let young children water plants. This will keep them from drowning them. Yes, we all do a lot of work for our garden, but our kids learn that the work and responsibility of planting a garden is worth it!
Your kids will learn a valuable life skill
Knowing how to plant and grow food is a skill that my husband and I both grew up learning with our families. I spent more spring and summer days than I can count in my grandparents huge garden picking beans, pulling weeds, and planting rows of corn or potatoes. There were some days (especially as a teenager) it was not the first place I wanted to be but it was part of what we did and a responsibility I had. Now I am so grateful for all I learned and I will have memories I will treasure for every.
Basic skills like how to grow and manage a garden are not taught as often as they should be now. We want our kids to know how to grow their own food so that one day, when they are grown, they are able too, if they want to or should ever need to.
Enjoy Family Time
Having a garden provides us with a lot of great family time! We get to spend time planning with our kids, talking with them about what we will plant. Also, we ask each child specifically what they want to plant. If it is not in our plan already we add it to our garden plan, if we can grow it in our area. Then we have a time together planting our seeds, and taking care of them, and preparing for our garden. Also, we get spend time together throughout the spring and summer planting our plants outside, sowing rows of seeds, watering, and pulling weeds
Then, the most exciting part for our kids, we get to go and harvest our amazing tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, beans, corn, etc. If our garden is as fruitful as we always hope, my kids also get to help make tomato sauce, salsa, pickles, and freeze what we can’t eat right away.
They see us Learn!
Another great benefit to gardening is learning! My kids see us learning and researching how to grow everything that we want. We look online and learn better methods to make our garden work for us where we live. Although we may have grown up gardening with our families we definitely aren’t experts. If you are thinking about growing your first garden, know that you can. If you have kids, then include them and learn right along with them. When we learn how to do something new it encourages our kids to learn also.
Gardening is possible for any family!
No matter where you live, it is possible to do some gardening with your kids. If you don’t have a lot of space and can’t plant in the ground a small container garden. You can still produce quite a bit of fruit, with less work! Your kids still get to experience seeing their plants grow. They will also love eating food that they actually grew. Raised bed gardens are another garden idea that is easy to manage! Vegetable Gardening Online gives you tons of different plans, information, and ways to grow what you want with the amount of space you have. It also provides some coloring books and free printable resources to teach your kids about gardening.
If you have thought about gardening but just weren’t sure you could manage it, your kids and everything else, I want to encourage you that it is possible! Go ahead and start planting a garden with your kids! Your kids will get outside, (probably get a little dirty) and get away from video games and the TV. Also, they will learn a skill that they will be able use their entire life. They will love it and will learn so much in the process. Just include them in every part of the process. You and your kids will be so proud of what you accomplish! Soon you will be serving fresh fruits and vegetables to your family!