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Gardening is a fun family activity - Plant a garden together this year!

Updated on June 22, 2011

The whole family can get involved in the garden

Want a nice, wholesome, family activity that will last all summer long? Look no further than your backyard. Gardening is a great activity for old and young alike. It teaches the values of payment from handiwork, delayed gratification and a lifelong skill that can save the family money and improve one's health. What more can you ask?

Getting dirty is fun

What kid doesn't like to get down into the dirt? Gardening is a good excuse for digging holes, making mud pies, finding earthworms and cool bugs and simply getting covered in the rich earthy smell of, well, dirt.

Not only is it fun but there have been a lot of studies that show that early exposure to organism in dirt help strengthen immune systems. Too squeaky clean of a lifestyle can actually lead to a weak immune system unable to fend off exposure to microbes later in life.

Inch by inch, row by row...The Garden Song

Gardening is good excercise

Gardening is a good excuse to get outside and enjoy the weather and nature. Getting some sun rays, fresh air and some exercise puts the whole family in a better mood. Studies have shown that 45 minutes worth of gardening can burn as many calories as 30 minutes of aerobics. Activities such as raking leaves, mowing the lawn, turning the compost pile and digging a garden bed can burn a tremendous amount of calories plus the payoff is so much more rewarding than riding a stationary bike for example.

Gardening is social

Some kids, especially boys, talk more freely when they are doing a task. Gardening gives a parent plenty of time to listen to their kids. If you live in a neighborhood with lots of kids you can even recruit a few of them to help out. If you have a shy child it might help him/her if they can become the expert in the neighborhood on gardening and show other kids what to do or how to help with watering. Gardening can be a source of self esteem building for kids as they show off the results of their garden by giving away extra veggies or selling them at the end of the driveway.

Gardening is educational

Gardening has all kinds of educational benefits. It shows the connection between the dinner plate and our food sources. You learn practical, hands on science - biology, chemistry,soil science, the natural world, the interaction between the sun, water, nutrients and plants. Young kids learn the foundation of concepts they will be taught later in school, while older kids can make direct links to what they witness and observe in the garden and what they learned in school.

Gardening also educational in learning how to eat healthy. In the basic sense they learn where food comes from, what it looks like and how raw unprocessed vegetables taste sans preservatives and flavorings. There is nothing better to show an appreciation for fresh produce than sharing a tomato, warmed and ripened by the sun with a sprinkle of salt in the family garden.

Let's Go to the Garden

Family Gardens are Memory Machines

Family gardening produces more than a bountiful harvest of fresh vegetables for the dinner table, included in the crop is ton of family memories. When your kids leave the nest and start their own gardens at their own homes with their own kids, they can look back fondly on the skills they learned growing up and pass them on your grandchildren.

Getting Started Gardening with Kids

You don't need a lot of space to garden with your kids. Just a sunny spot. It could be on the front stoop or back deck in containers. You can even grow tomatoes hanging upside down, hanging from a hook.

With kids I'd recommend starting your garden with good soil that comes from a trusted spot. Simply turning over the lawn might not be a good idea if its near a roadway. Young kids growing bodies are very sensitive to lead and most of our soils have been contaminated with air borne lead from the days of leaded gasoline.

Select some veggies that you know your kids will eat and be adventurous with others. Some plants like radishes grow very quickly (days instead of weeks) and can be fun for impatient kids. Tomatoes, zuccine, patty pans are easy to grow. Potatoes are fun to grow because when you harvest them they are like digging for treasure. Pumpkins always delight kids and extend the garden well into the fall. If you have room try growing some giant pumpkins.

Kids like weird plants too so try growing some strange things like lofa and gourds. You can make lots of crafts out of some of these plants. Kids like flowers too so why not mix in some straw flowers and giant sunflowers just for fun.

Below I give you my book recommendations for the past ten years of gardening with kids. The Square Foot garden is the bible of practical gardening knowledge and the other recommendations are for books with fun ideas for gardening with kids. Get out there and get in the dirt!

Copyright Edward M. Fielding

Square Foot Gardening


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    • profile image

      Tim 4 years ago

      We love to grow kids favorite plant the TickleMe Plant in the classroom.

      The student run to class to see the leave of the TickleMe Plant close up when Tickled! Google Pet TickleMe Plant

    • Just About It profile image

      Just About It 6 years ago from southern CA

      It is wonderful to watch the kids grow plants in the garden. They always have such wonderful questions and it gives them a chance to get good and dirty.

    • MellyMoo profile image

      MellyMoo 6 years ago from Australia

      One of my favourite things ... getting my hands in the dirt. I have planted many seeds with my children and they love it too. It teaches them so much, as they watch everything growing and then watch me picking things to eat. One of life's simple pleasures.