Sharing The Love of Gardening With Children
April 24, 2006
Most adults who garden began this hobby as children. And more than one old-timer has sworn off gardening because he hated it as a kid. According to the National Gardening Association, if you want your child to love gardening, the best things you can do, in order of importance, are the following:
1. Show children how much you love gardening just by reveling in your own garden every day.
2. Surround children with great gardens. That doesn’t mean a show place. It may mean a messy, riotously colored backyard garden; a decorative little getaway in the corner of your patio; or a profuse pot full of herbs on the front porch.
3. Give children good gardening experiences to create great memories for years to come. Enlist children of all ages to help plant seeds and transplants; weed as much as their capabilities and attention span will allow; and pick and prepare the harvest for meals or to pack in their lunch.
4. Let kids choose what to plant. Offer guidance for what will grow in your area, and make sure there are some guaranteed-successes among their picks. (You can’t go wrong including some quick-growing radishes!)
5. Relax your standards. Crooked rows or weeds as “pets” are fine. It can be fun to plant seeds from last night’s dessert to see what happens, too! (A great lesson on the difference between hybrid seed and varieties.)
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6. Be on the look-out for bugs. Look for worms and other insects, and be sure to model the message that some insects are beneficial, and even destructive bugs are highly interesting.
7. Do behind-the-scenes maintenance of kids’ gardens, keeping them edged and weeded. Don’t expect young children to do all the watering and pest patrol. As children get older, they can accomplish more of the work in the garden as they learn about and realize the importance and significance of each task.
8. Expose children to other people passionate about gardening by visiting a neighbor’s garden, a botanical garden, or a commercial greenhouse. You never know”gardening may motivate your youngster to pursue a career path in botany, forestry or horticulture some day! With all the attention on the relationship between consuming fruits and vegetables and preventing cancer and other diseases, gardening is the perfect hobby for not only for getting exercise, but also for assuring that your household has a plentiful supply of fresh produce several months of each year, plus whatever you are able to freeze, dry or can for the other months!
Revised from: http://www.kidsgardening.com/primer.asp . For more information on gardening, contact your local CSU Cooperative Extension Office. Numerous free fact sheets about gardening and landscape are available online at: http://www.ext.colostate.edu.