Gardening with Children

Here are some quick tips and resources to help your family get started this year on planting a garden. We have tried to provide you with a variety of ideas to get you going as well as book and website resources to help. Happy planting!

What kinds of flowers and plants do we choose?
When gardening with children it is best to choose plants that grow fast, have a lot of color and personality, and are interesting to touch. Some suggestions for you to consider are Balloon Flowers, Lamb Ears, Bleeding Hearts, Poppies, Sunflowers, Black Eyed Susan’s, Cornflowers, Snapdragons, Sweet Peas, and Forget-Me-Knots. There are many others and you might want to consider reading Sunflower Houses by Sharon Lovejoy. She provides a lot of tips and suggestions for gardening with children.

How do we get started?
You basically have two choices on starting your garden. You can start the plants yourself by starting the seedlings indoors (in general you will need to begin this anywhere from 4-8 weeks before you plant them outdoors). Starting the seedlings yourself takes more up front planning and time, but provides the kids with a great science lesson. Also, packets of seeds make a great gift for the Easter baskets. The other option is to buy the plants from a nursery. If you plan on buying the plants from a nursery, you need to be sure they carry all the kinds you want and need for your garden.

How do we care for our garden?
The care of the garden will depend primarily on the flowers and plants you choose, making sure you use flowers and plants right for your climate , and ensuring you plant them in the right spot in your yard (full sun, partial sun, shade). All flowers and plants need water and a good fertilizer to grow, so you may want to consider starting a worm composting bin. At first this may sound a bit gross (and it is a little), but the castings from worms make great fertilizer for gardens and the worm composting bins themselves provide kids with a great hands on science lesson. Many kids love the icky nature of worms, so if you can get past this yourself they are sure to be a hit and
great learning tool for your kids.

Theme Gardens
Another good choice for families to consider are theme gardens. There are a lot of choices in theme gardens from a butterfly garden, a pizza garden, a sunflower house garden, or an ABC garden and many websites offering a lot of information on how to plant one. Sharon Lovejoy’s Sunflower Houses also provides suggestions and directions on different theme gardens.

Gardening Book Suggestions
Here are some great gardening books you might want to consider adding to your family library.

Planting a Rainbow
Growing Vegetable Soup
Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots: Gardening Together with Children
Where Butterflies Grow
The Gardener (fiction)
Worms Eat My Garbage
Diary of a Worm
How to Eat Fried Worms (fiction)
Dig, Plant, Grow: A Kid’s Guide to Gardening

Resources on the Web
The Butterfly Website