How to Start a Children's Garden: Organic Gardening with Kids
Few things are more fulfilling than growing your own flowers and produce. Organic gardening is great for all ages, but it can be really special when you involve the little ones. Gardening is fun, educational, and healthy -- as long as you grow organic. Because their developing bodies are so susceptible to toxins, it's essential to use child-safe products in your garden.
How to Start a Garden with Kids
When it comes to starting a garden, there's no time like the present. Many people believe that they have to put off planting until spring. While this is a great time to plant, there's always something you can do in the garden. Children love helping to prepare the soil and will enjoy setting things up.
When deciding what to plant, you'll need to consider your region's climate and the length of your growing season. If you have hot weather, choose sun-loving plants that will thrive in warmer climates. If it tends to be cooler where you live, go for hardy plants that can handle cloudy spells and chilly weather. It's best to choose kid-proof plants that are simple and rewarding to grow.
If it's very early or late in the year, you can concentrate on preparing the garden. If the ground hasn't been tended to for a while, the coldest months are great for getting a head start on weeds. Laying weed mat over the ground will make sure there are fewer weeds when you come to plant in the springtime. If the soil is already in good shape, you could jump right in with winter-hardy crops like fava beans and onions. Mix in compost or organic fertilizer before you plant to support the new crops.
Lay your organic garden out in small plots. Long rows can daunt kids—create a patchwork of different vegetables grown in small blocks or short rows. Consider planting in raised beds or even containers -- they're very convenient and great for kids. Most importantly, keep everything small-scale and as simple as you can.
Involve your kids as much as possible with the preparation. They might not be able to manage adult-sized tools, so make sure they have scaled-down versions to dig with. Before planting is a great time to teach your kids about pulling weeds. They'll learn to recognize unwanted plants and won't accidentally uproot any vegetables.
Garden Project Ideas for Kids
- Set up bug boxes and bee hotels in the garden to attract pollinators and other friendly insects.
- If you're short on space, have kids create mini-gardens in containers. Choose large, colorful containers and then have children plant seeds or choose seasonal plants from your local nursery.
- Teach kids about organic gardening methods by showing them how companion planting works. Explain that some plants are friends and will help each other grow.
- Kids love to decorate their gardens. Set up a succulent display and allow children to decorate it with plastic dinosaurs. Plant a fairy garden at the base of a tree or another secluded spot. Use a dollhouse door or make your own from garden-safe materials to create a make-believe fairy house with small, flowering plants (like alyssum) nearby.
- Create a kid's organic vegetable garden where your children can grow their favorite veggies. Let them pick the seeds. If they're having trouble deciding what to plant, offer some tasty, healthy options, such as rainbow root vegetables, spaghetti squash, and corn.
Benefits of a Children's Garden
A garden helps children learn about the environment and the food that they eat. Gardening encourages children to get outside and be more physically active. Growing together is a great way to bond socially and as a family, teaching strong co-operative skills. Best of all, with an organic garden, you know exactly what substances your kids might encounter.
Organic gardening is just as easy as gardening with conventional products. Glyphosate-free organic weed killer can get rid of weeds in hours without harming your crops, while organic pest control solutions deter harmful insects without affecting pollinators. You can make pesticides and herbicides from household ingredients, but it's often simpler and more economical to buy organic gardening products that are proven safe and effective.