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Gardening With Children

Polesie Toys

By Dawn Oldfield, CCMGA Public Relations Chairperson

I inherited my love of gardening from my Great-Grandmother. Her vegetable garden was the size of a small city block. She grew a cornucopia of vegetables; tomatoes, peppers, carrots, lettuce, cucumbers, green beans, radishes, potatoes, onions, squash and herbs. When I was a little girl and we visited, I loved helping her with planting, weeding, watering, and picking fresh produce. She’s probably why I’ve always had a healthy appetite for vegetables.

Benefits of Gardening for Kids
I didn’t realize it then (I was just having fun!), but she also taught me math and science. We’d use a yardstick to measure the proper placement of the plants and how deep to dig a hole for them to grow in. She taught me how to identify and tell the difference between beneficial insects and bad bugs in the garden. She also taught me about not wasting water, and to respect nature and our planet.

For parents struggling to get their kids to eat healthier, or just put their electronic devices down and go outside for some fresh air, gardening can be a wonderful activity. A garden is a place where adults and children can produce their own vegetables and flowers and cultivate teamwork, patience, communication skills, and memories. Studies have shown that time in the garden also provides for better physical and mental health.

Tips for Gardening with Kids: How to Get Started
You don’t need a large backyard for a garden. Try planting in a small raised bed. Children can assist with measuring the area (reinforce those math skills!) to define the beds and rake in soil amendments. Container gardening is another option if you don’t have much outdoor space. You’d be surprised what you can grow in a small space. Watering the garden is a fun task for children to help with. Set a time to check on your garden daily for new growth and ripe produce. Children can measure how tall plants have grown and count the number of flowers or veggies on each plant.

Some vegetables can be purchased as transplants in pots from your local nursery. Children of all ages can assist in digging holes for these plants. Growing plants from seeds is a fun experience, too. Waiting and observing the growth of lettuce or bean seeds can be very exciting for children.

A Pizza Garden and Other Fun Ideas for Kids
Consider growing a pizza garden! What kid doesn’t love pizza? Tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, spinach, onions, basil and oregano are just a few of the vegetables and herbs you might find on a pizza. These vegetables can be used to make sauces for pasta, too.

Children should be encouraged to grow vegetables they like as well as new ones. Children (and adults, too!) are more likely to taste new types of vegetables they’ve grown themselves. Visit Myers Park & Event Center, Monday – Friday, to see the Collin County Master Gardeners Children's Garden for ideas of what to grow.

There is nothing like the taste of produce fresh from the garden. Even if kids may not love the foods they grow at first, teach them to keep tasting and trying. Their taste buds will evolve to enjoy the bounty of their harvest.

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