Making a Garden Fun for Kids

I have tried to make our family garden a thing of interest for our children. Not always successfully but I’m getting better at it as they get older and I appreciate the extra hands for the everyday garden chores. 

Here are 3 things that I have found to be attractions for kids and the garden:

1) Insects: Worms and ladybugs hold perpetual facscination for kids. When we added honeybees a new world opened to them and instead of panic at the sight of a bee, it became “that’s one of our bees, I can tell”. Even pests in the garden, this year it was a grub infestation, are an opportunity to learn about the target and the range of remedies.

2) Make part of it their garden: I roped my kids into the process of selecting plants, laying out the beds, and caring for the seedlings through to the waning days of harvest. Most critically, I gave them a section to own and maintain. 

3) It’s not a chore: Chores are things we have to do, being outside in the garden is something we want to do. Make the daily travels through the beds an adventure, answer questions, invite exploration.

This morning we were out doing some cleanup and I took the opportunity to interview my 2 sons about this year in the garden. I have two boys, soon to be 8 and the older one is 12. My younger son didn’t want to be interviewed unless I let him watch videos on mom’s iphone, so you are getting just one set of answers.

Me: What is your favorite plant of the garden?

Brodie: I like the snap peas because we can pick them off the plants and eat them. They are crisp and sweet.

Me: Tell me about your experiences with the chickens.

Brodie: They are pretty jumpy but I think they are nice. They were really small when we got them and I’m really surprised at how big they are now. I don’t like herding them back into their run but I like holding them. I was surprised to see that they will eat everything and they eat a lot. It seems like chickens are costantly eating.

Me: What insects do you find in the garden?

Brodie: A lot of flies and ladybugs, sometimes I see a dragonfly. I like the ladybugs because it’s good luck to have them land on you. In the spring we found the grubs and sprayed the nematodes to get rid of them. That was pretty neat. I was sad when the honeybees didn’t make it but am excited to try again and I hope I can get my own helmet and net. 

Me: What tasks do you handle in the garden?

Brodie: I have been trimming the plants, carrying them to compost, and I water them. I check the chickens and when you are traveling for work I let them out in the morning and put them in at night. 

Me: If you could grow something new next year, what would it be? 

Brodie: I’d probably get some really hot peppers, like ghost peppers. I also think we can grow more potatoes next year, it was fun digging them up. 

Me: What kind of things do you learn in the garden?

Brodie: Different plants, how to grow them and how they change as they grow. I learned about what not to do, and how the different fruits and vegetables grow.

Me: Do you think you will have your own garden one day? 

Brodie: Yes, because it is neat to grow your own food and have it there when you need it. Having food fresh from the garden is definitely better than going to the store.