Gardening with children can such a fun and amazing experience if you have a few tricks up your sleeves. {wink}  Today Kim is sharing those tips with us and you can just feel her passion for incorporating this activity for her children. We've planned our gardens, constructed out beds, built up our soil, and we've even figured out what we want to plant. Before we get into the nitty-gritty of pest and weed control or harvesting later in this series, I thought I would take a walk on the wild side of gardening...the side that I am most passionate about! Gardening with Children!

Nothing is more fun that seeing the look of wonder and amazement on a child's face when they learn how a seed sprouts or that corn grows on an ear instead of coming from a can or bag!  Kids need to know where real food comes from, that is does not just magically appear on the shelves of grocery store perfectly packaged and preserved. Even if you live in the heart of the city you can grow something on a windowsill or deck, visit a farmers market to buy fresh veggies, or join a community garden.  We need for our kids to make the connection between this planet we live on and the food that sustains our bodies. There are a few simple things that we can all do to engage children in the gardening process.

  • Plant things that are interesting and tasty.
  • Incorporate play into our gardens.
  • We can attract critters that kids love to watch.
  • Mostly we can give of our time in the garden, spending time learning and working together!

Here is a list of veggies that I have found to be particularily interesting for kiddos: Sunflowers they can grow their own giants Potatoes so much fun to dig...like a treasure hunt! Gourds interesting shapes, and fun for crafts Radishes quick growing colorful and fun to harvest Cherry Tomatoes bright, abundant and child size Strawberries easy to grow and especially delicious Sugar Snap Peas a fast growing sweet snack right from the vine Corn I have found my kids many times hiding among the stalks eating raw corn! Pumpkins nothing more fun than one's very own pumpkin patch

To incorporate play in the garden is easy!

  • Plant your sunflowers in a circle or a square and let the kids play inside the 'sunflower house' that will grow.
  • Make a teepee of bamboo or poles and let beans grow up it for an edible fort.
  • Scratch names in the sides of young cucumber and watch them grow.
  • Plant your fast growing radishes in shapes or letters to delight the young at heart
  • Make a scarecrow
  • Grow edible flowers

This was last year's sunflower maze with gourds starting to grow on the 'roof'

Kids love critters! Attract butterflies, humming birds and other lovelies by planting a variety of flowers that they love:

  • Bee Balm
  • Begonia
  • Corn Flower
  • Cosmos
  • Dahlia
  • Geranium
  • Hollyhock
  • Impatiens
  • Nasturtium
  • Petunia
  • Snapdragon
  • and so many more!

Take the time to get out in the garden with a child.  It does not even have to be your child!  Invite the neighborhood children into your garden, start a school garden, or spend time with a grandchild playing in the dirt.  Ignite the passion for gardening in the next generation!

It is so important for not only the health of our bodies but for that of the earth that we teach our children where their food comes from.

Kids can learn that if they care for the earth it will in turn share its goodness in the form of fresh healthy foods with them!

How to Garden Series:

Step 1 -  Ground Site Selection Step 2 – Improve Gardening Soils Step 3 – Garden Beds, Pockets and Pots 101 Step 4 – What To Plant Step 5 - Gardening with Children If you have any questions about starting a garden or anything we’ve talked about today, please ask it in the comments or on the Tip Junkie Facebook page.  We want you to succeed and would love to help you!

I would like to invite all of you to join me on May 5th for the beginning of our annual KinderGARDENS series.  It is where both beginning and veteran gardeners join together to promote children in the garden.  We share ideas, stories, design, and encourage one another to let our children get dirty!  We also have a contest for the best and most creative ways to get kids excited about gardening.  Some of these gardens will simply amazing you with their creativity and fun!  So consider yourselves welcome...

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Kim is a small organic farmer who lives in the Pacific Northwest raising organic fruits, veggies, critters, kids, and…a camel!  She blogs at the inadvertent farmer where she dishes on living the authentic country life.  She also hosts a yearly summer-long series and contest called KinderGARDENS that is aimed at instilling the love of gardening to the next generation believing that dirty hands make for healthy happy kids!