I’ve pulled out our t-shirts, put away my winter decor, and am starting to paint my toenails again (so that I can wear sandals, of course). Spring is in the air and that means, it’s time to brainstorm our garden! Our family has been gardening for at least 6 years and it has been one of my favorite ways to spend our time together. When I was just girl, I have countless memories helping my dad in the garden, so it was natural of me to start one of my own. Not only did I want a garden for the fresh food, but it’s an important tool for me in my parenting approach with my kids because…
Gardening teaches us to be a team. Kids are often involved in all kinds of activities and team sports that help them communicate and work with others. I view our family garden the same way. We are a team that has to work together to make sure that our plants get what they need. And in the end, we all have one goal in mind, a bountiful supply of homegrown goodies.
Gardening teaches us to be more appreciative. Gardening requires patience and persistence, and having a garden is a safe and fun way to instill those traits in my kids (and myself!). Our society is full of instant gratification that bombards us on a daily basis. A nice change of pace is teach my kids that hard work really does pay off. And gardening is an easy way for them to grasp that concept.
Gardening teaches us about nature. While my toddler doesn’t quite grasp the “life cycle of a seed” concept, my older two kids definitely do. (In fact, my kids try to save seeds from everything for us to plant now.) Our garden gives me the opportunity to share how nature is a miraculous thing for us to enjoy. They love being outside and exploring and getting dirty. And as much as I hate trying to clean red dirt stains, I’m so grateful that they love learning about where our food comes from.
Now that you know a few reasons why gardening is so important to me, let me share just a couple of gardening tips so that you can enjoy the same fun with your kids.
You don’t need a ton of space. Container gardening, hanging baskets, and square foot gardening are all techniques that provide you with the same experience as a full fledged garden, but in a much smaller area. Container gardening is perfect for herbs, lettuce, and carrots. Hanging baskets are great for strawberries and cherry tomatoes. And square foot gardening can provide you with the space for a larger variety of things!
Start out simple. It is very tempting to want to try planting everything you find at the store, but please don’t. Start off with a few family favorites your first year and see how that goes. You will be less overwhelmed and will be able to give better attention to your plants as you learn the ropes. Our very first garden only had cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and okra. As the years have passed, my green thumb has grown and now we plant between 3 and 4 times that amount.
Have fun. Don’t get down on yourself if something doesn’t grow the way that it should. I’ve had years where some things flourish and others fail miserably. Take it with a grain of salt and learn more for the next year. And if something doesn’t grow as planned, there’s a little nugget of learning wisdom for your kids in that too!