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Gardening With the Family

Updated on June 3, 2013

Home Gardener

Gardeners working on a fence in their garden.
Gardeners working on a fence in their garden. | Source

Family Garden

How a family spends its time together has changed over the last few decades. I remember growing up in the 1980’s and staying out late playing with their neighborhood kids, in fact we used to use the street lights as our cue it was time to go home. Families would converge around the dinner table back then and share stories about their days. At the time I didn’t see the significance of doing this but with a family of my own I completely understand now.

I’m not against change but I do believe that changes can snowball into additional alterations down the road. With our kids becoming more distracted by technology parents are finding alternate ways for families to spend time together.

Spending time together, in my opinion, is critical to children being able to grow up with all the right chances to be successful contributors to our society. I’m not saying it is impossible to be a success if your family didn’t spend much together when you were growing up but I believe it is a very important piece to an incredibly complicated puzzle.

One way for families to function as one is to garden. A garden is a great vehicle because the kids can actually see the fruits of their labor, no pun intended. Some work at the beginning and nurturing along the way can yield some visible, and possibly tasty, results.

Garden Vegetables

Having your kids help plant a garden is a fairly simple way for a family to work together. It doesn’t matter if your kids are little or teenagers, all ages can help in some capacity. Sometimes just getting them off of the couch or away from the computer and video games can be a victory by itself but don’t stop there, drag them outside while you are in the motivating mood.

If your children are little let them do small chores that don’t require a bunch of muscle. Let them push back the soil after you plant something or task them with picking up the empty containers from the vegetables. For the older and stronger kids let them dig the holes or drag the garden hose over to give the new plants a nice drink of water.

Parents know their children better than anyone so knowing what their limitations are should be one of the easiest things you probably do all day.

We are very fortunate that we have always included our kids in our gardens so they are used to helping, even though as they get older their vocal displeasure has grown. Even though they complain they know they have to do the work, and they do.

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Flower Gardening

Some folks aren’t into dealing with vegetable gardens and that is OK. Another idea is a flower garden. It will still take some of the same preparation as a vegetable garden but it usually requires less upkeep and might be more successful in poor soil conditions.

For the little ones let them help pick out the flowers at the home improvement store or seed packets if you want to go the seed route. Let their imagination run wild with their selections, think of the garden as their own dirt canvas.

The older kids will have probably the same job that they would have done for a vegetable garden, just another ‘advantage’ of getting older I guess.

Gardening Tips

Gardener Tools

To have a prosperous garden, of any kind, some basic tools will be needed; the obvious one is a shovel. Depending on your soil you need to decide between a flat shovel and a pointed one. If your soil is very easy to break up a flat one would probably be fine; for harder soils go with a pointed one. The pointed ones will help you drive the shovel deeper into the dirt to break it up and will make planting a much easier task.

Another handy tool to have is a small shovel, sometimes called a spade. These miniature shovels are hand held versions of their bigger relatives. When you are squatted down, or on your knees, these smaller shovels are very handy because you can use them in smaller spaces.

It is also nice to have a hoe around to help break up larger clumps of soil. This tool isn’t mandatory but it is easier to break up dirt with a hoe than it is with a shovel. If you are looking to save money and not buy every tool you can find then stick with a shovel; it comes down to personal preference on this one.

Don’t be afraid to involve the kids when picking out any tools. Maybe they like a particular color of a shovel or found kids sized ones. When our kids were little we found some small rakes and just had to get them. They would come out into the garden and help us weed or rake away leaves. They weren’t really “helping” much but they didn’t know that and we certainly weren’t going to tell them.

Garden Compost and Soil Amendments

Adding compost or other soil amendments should be saved for the older kids or parents especially since most of the compost available smells bad to little kids. The amendments and fertilizers are a more dangerous story. Little kids don’t know they need to wash their hands after touching fertilizers so do this task yourself or have an older child tackle it, you might want to try distracting them with some other chore to not let them know they are missing out on something. People can get sick ingesting these fertilizers so play it safe and don’t even let them touch the stuff.

Storage Garden Shed

Some more advanced gardeners have a shed dedicated to their craft; obviously this is not something that is required. If you have a garage then store your tools, seeds, compost, etc. there. Wherever you decide to store your tools just make sure to protect them from rain, bad weather will damage many garden tools.

We learned a long time ago that when your kids are helping out in the garden you need to sometimes follow-up with them from time to time. In addition to supervising their actual gardening work parents should also make sure that they are cleaning things up as well. Tools can weather extremely fast when left in the elements. Take it from me; make sure the things you ask them to help put back actually make it back to the shed, garage, etc.

Garden Ideas and Designs

Flower and vegetable gardens are probably the most popular kinds of gardens for families to do together but don’t feel that you are only limited to these two. If your children want to build a rock garden go ahead and go for it, especially if you have some extra stray rocks lying around.

When our kids were little we built an oasis for our little box turtle. It wasn’t too fancy to us but I’m sure she loved it. We picked a corner or our yard and fenced it off, built a little gate and added the typical turtle home amenities. Both of our kids loved helping by putting rocks, sticks and old flower pot saucers full of water in there for her.

Since they were little I did the post hole digging and stapling of the fence to the posts but they still felt like members of the construction team. Obviously they didn’t contribute as much sweat to the afternoon project as I did but they still helped and were proud of their contributions, isn’t that what matters when a family rolls up their sleeves in the garden?

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    • Robie Benve profile image

      Robie Benve 4 years ago from Ohio

      Nice hub, I enjoyed reading it. I love working in the garden, and I get my children to help when I can. I hope they grow up with a passion for gardening too. :)

    • TFScientist profile image

      Rhys Baker 4 years ago from Peterborough, UK

      The first thing on my wife's list when we move (probably next year) is a garden. I would love to do a little gardening, and maybe grow some veg too.

      Good Video and great ideas to make this a family fun activity. Voted Up!

    • adjkp25 profile image
      Author

      David 4 years ago from Northern California

      Robie - Gardening is a ton of work but it is fun too, I hope your kids embrace your garden. Thanks for commenting.

    • adjkp25 profile image
      Author

      David 4 years ago from Northern California

      TFScientist - I don't know what we would do with our land if we didn't have a garden on it. Growing some of your own food is a great feeling. Thanks for reading and voting.

    • Nettlemere profile image

      Nettlemere 4 years ago from Burnley, Lancashire, UK

      definitly worth getting children involved in gardening. My dad gave me and my brother a little patch of garden each. It inspired me to have a lifelong love of gardening - not so my brother, but even he found the experience useful, once he got his own house with a garden to look after.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      I would love to have a garden, maybe when I retire this could be my hobby. However, having a garden is really a blessing as it provides so much good, natural food. Love the that you made your turtle an oasis.

    • adjkp25 profile image
      Author

      David 4 years ago from Northern California

      Nettlemere - My daughter wants me to build her a little raised planter bed of her own that she can plant whatever she wants. It is on my list to do this fall for her; it does make me proud to see her embracing the garden idea.

    • adjkp25 profile image
      Author

      David 4 years ago from Northern California

      teaches12345 - We love our garden and wouldn't trade it for the world. The kids found a sign that said "warning - attack turtle", we had to get it and put it up on her fence.

    • Tonipet profile image

      Tonette Fornillos 4 years ago from The City of Generals

      Hi adjkp25. This is very helpful and I agree! It does not only help kids work along, but learn along. They will have the fun of discovering tricks how to grow veggies. My kid nieces enjoy a little garden where they have so much fun watering everyday especially when they start to harvest. Top of their list is parsley!:=)

    • girishpuri profile image

      Girish puri 4 years ago from NCR , INDIA

      great tips and it is really a great pleasure, when you are with yr family, where ever it is, nice hub, voted up.

    • adjkp25 profile image
      Author

      David 4 years ago from Northern California

      Tonipet - I'm glad they enjoy gardening, it really is a great way for a youngster to contribute around the house and learn some basics in responsibility on how to take care of something. Thanks for sharing your story and commenting.

    • adjkp25 profile image
      Author

      David 4 years ago from Northern California

      girishpuri - I agree, family time is super important...get that time in anyway you can. Thanks for voting and commenting.

    • kittyjj profile image

      Ann Leung 4 years ago from San Jose, California

      Very helpful hub! I am new to gardening and my kids are asking for a garden. But I don't know how. The video also helped here. Voted up and useful!

    • adjkp25 profile image
      Author

      David 4 years ago from Northern California

      kittyjj - If you build a garden with them they will remember it for a very long time, and so will you. Thanks for commenting and voting.

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