Gardening with Kids

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011 by Jenny Watts
    • Plant summer-flowering bulbs now. Glads, dahlias, callas, cannas and lilies will bloom this summer if planted soon.
    • Attract birds to your feeders to enjoy. Delightful gold finches will be happy to visit your thistle feeders, and rufous-sided tohees will visit seed feeders.
    • Fertilize established roses now and begin spraying them for insect and disease problems. Neem oil is a very effective, less toxic spray that works against both insects and diseases.
    • Begonias bulbs can be started indoors now and set out after danger of frost. You’ll enjoy their beautiful flowers this summer.
    • Last chance to plant asparagus roots this year. This delicious vegetable will keep producing for up to 20 years.

Gardening with Kids

There are many fun ways to interest children in gardening. Whether you’re a parent or a grandparent, having children enjoy their time with you in the garden can be an experience they will remember all their lives.

One successful way to pique a child’s gardening interest is to have a few unusual or fascinating plants around the garden. Snapdragons are an old favorite, and many of us still remember pinching the blossoms to make them “snap”. Bleeding heart has an intriguing flower as do fuchsias and balloon flowers before they open up.

Children love the papery “silver dollar” seed heads of Honesty, a dried flower used in arrangements. And who doesn’t love to “pet” the furry leaves of Lamb’s ears?

Tall plants hold a particular fascinating for children, especially fast growing ones. Sunflowers are fun to grow because they get taller every day. Large marigolds, zinnias and cosmos and “dinnerplate” dahlias, tall gladioli and lilies will capture their interest.

Planting potatoes is a good activity to do with children. Plant a sprouting potato and check every few days to see if the green shoots are emerging. The real magic comes at harvest time, when large round potatoes are dug up out of the earth. Digging for potatoes is like digging for buried treasure, and potatoes come in some amazing colors and shapes too.

Plants that children can eat are a good way to interest them in the garden. Sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes, and strawberries are probably the favorites. Searching through the dark green leaves looking for a bright red, ripe berry is almost like hide-and-seek. This delicious fruit is its own reward. Strawberries planted now will bear fruit this summer.

Kids enjoy garden structures like a bean teepee or a sunflower house, where they can have a secret hideaway. Other plants that are good for tall garden structures are scarlet runner beans, morning glories (in red, blue and purple) and white moonflowers.

Don’t forget to plant some fragrant flowers for them to pick and enjoy. Sweet peas make the perfect bouquet and honeysuckle flowers can be enjoyed for their sweet nectar as well. Oriental lilies have a lovely scent as do lavenders, which are fun to make into sachets or lavender wands.

When kids are a little older, they will enjoy having a garden space of their own. Let him plant what he wants in his own way. If she plants an entire seed packet in one square foot, she will see the results and may decide to spread the seeds out better next time. Encourage the planting of flower bulbs. It’s wonderful to see what grows out of a hard, dry bulb.

If you love to garden, chances are that your children will grow to enjoy being outdoors and may develop an interest in gardening if you help them discover the joys of the plant world.