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Teaching Basic Gardening to Kids: Transforming the Garden Into An Experimental Lab (Photos)

Updated on March 18, 2015

Teaching Basic Gardening to Kids Image Gallery

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Angel Fred watches over our container garden with radishes that are just about ready to harvest.Dill, basil, coriander, radish and other goodies in our version of an urban garden for kids.Start seeds in eggshell planters to give them a powerful calcium boost as they are developing.Basil is a wonderful container garden plant for kids because it is hardy and easy to germinate and to grow.Because they grow so rapidly, radishes are one of the best kid-friendly crops. You can probably tempt even the most reluctant eater to try a taste of a vegetable he or she grew.
Angel Fred watches over our container garden with radishes that are just about ready to harvest.
Angel Fred watches over our container garden with radishes that are just about ready to harvest. | Source
Dill, basil, coriander, radish and other goodies in our version of an urban garden for kids.
Dill, basil, coriander, radish and other goodies in our version of an urban garden for kids. | Source
Start seeds in eggshell planters to give them a powerful calcium boost as they are developing.
Start seeds in eggshell planters to give them a powerful calcium boost as they are developing. | Source
Basil is a wonderful container garden plant for kids because it is hardy and easy to germinate and to grow.
Basil is a wonderful container garden plant for kids because it is hardy and easy to germinate and to grow. | Source
Because they grow so rapidly, radishes are one of the best kid-friendly crops.
Because they grow so rapidly, radishes are one of the best kid-friendly crops. | Source
You can probably tempt even the most reluctant eater to try a taste of a vegetable he or she grew.
You can probably tempt even the most reluctant eater to try a taste of a vegetable he or she grew. | Source

Gardening Benefits for Kids

Why should you even be concerned with teaching basic gardening to kids?

For starters, when you include your children in your gardening projects, you have a tailor-made teaching opportunity. For instance, they can develop basic science or math skills such as estimating, graphing, charting or predicting, just to name a few. If you are wondering how this works, here's what happens:

  1. Science: When you teach them the difference between herbs and spices, they learn about botany.
  2. Math: Geometry comes into play when you calculate the area and volume of your containers to determine how much growth medium you'll need.
  3. Math: For younger gardeners, teach prediction by asking them to guess how many seeds are in a package. Open the package and count the seeds to test their predictions.

The more time you spend gardening with your kids, the more opportunities you will find for inserting mini life lessons into the process of gardening. In addition, your kids benefit from:

  • Better nutrition: The foods are fresher and pesticide free.
  • More physical activity: Getting kids up and moving is an essential way to increase their overall health and strengthen their immune systems.

Benefits of Gardening for Kids

Do Your 2012 Garden Plans Include the Kids?

How like are you to include teaching basic gardening to kids in your garden plans this year?

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Getting Your Kids Started in Gardening

The garden in these pictures consists of planters containing herbs such as cilantro, basil, and dill and vegetables such as radishes and lettuce.

Total investment for the garden was about $20 because we did not have any planters we could recycle so we had to buy them, and we decide to buy seedlings instead of starting from seed as we had in previous years.

While you want to offer them advice and suggestions, let your kids own this project. This means letting them pick the vegetables they want to grow and the types of container they want to use.

Insist that they own the responsibility of caring for the garden as well. Even preschoolers can fill a planter with soil (under adult supervision, of course), and they will love digging into the dirt to plant the seeds or seedlings.

Watering plants is loads of fun and your only chore will be keeping them from drowning the seedlings with too much water.

Teach them how to recognize the first true leaves, how to thin the plants, and encourage them to record the plant's growth in a daily garden log.

Watch their interest level and excitement grow as the plants begin to mature, and let them share the fruits of their labor by incorporating their vegetables and herbs in the family meal plans.

Here's some tips for success for your container gardens:

  1. Recycle container from previous years, but sterilize them with a weak bleach solution before using them to avoid crop contamination or failure. Adults should do this step.
  2. Growth medium will furnish more consistent results than soil.
  3. If you are working with preschoolers, seedlings are the best choice because these tiny gardeners do not have the patience to wait for seeds to sprout!
  4. For elementary grade children, it's best to grow vegetables such as lettuce and radish, which mature quickly and satisfy their need for quick results and almost instant gratification.

Just for fun, save some eggshells and use them as natural planters to start the seeds. The plants will benefit from the additional calcium and for some reason, kids think growing seeds in these unusual containers is great fun!

Best Kid Friendly Gardens

Container gardens are tailor made for little gardeners. They are portable and inexpensive, and as a bonus, they can be planted any time of year regardless of weather.

Growing herbs such as basil, coriander, dill and so forth on a sunny windowsill can make rainy days, snow days, and long holiday breaks from school pass more quickly.

Learning to cook with freshly grown herbs is a wonderful learning experience for kids, and because they grew the herbs themselves, they are likely to be more willing to try a new food such as home-grown radishes or an exotic beverage such as herb tea.

If you do decide to garden outdoors, choose a small area and cover the soil with landscape canvas to keep weeding to a minimum. In general, kids are really excited about a new project when they first start it, but may soon lose interest and abandon it. If you don't want to be stuck weeding a large garden patch, do yourself a favor and cover the soil!

Recommended Kid Friendly Crops for Gardens

Choose plants that germinate fast and produce fruit or taste good. Herbs and spices are fun to grow because they are aromatic but vegetables may be more appealing to young gardeners like preschoolers.

  • Radishes
  • Carrots
  • Lettuce
  • Cherry or bush tomatoes

Most vining plants do not grow well in containers as they need room to sprawl and twine, and they require lots of water to set their fruit so you may want to stay away from squash, gourds, melons or beans if you are container gardening.

Teaching basic gardening to kids gives them a life skill that they can use no matter where they live or how much (or little) money they have. With a handful of seeds and a little patch of land, they can grow healthy, delicious food for pennies.

What Ways Do You Use to Introduce Your Kids to the Joys of Gardening?

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    • DonnaCosmato profile image
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      Donna Cosmato 5 years ago from USA

      Thanks for the votes of support daisyjae. I hope you enjoy with in the garden with your family.

    • daisyjae profile image

      daisyjae 5 years ago from Canada

      Its an awesome idea to get kids involved with gardening.Like your hub points out, there are tonnes of things kids can learn. Rated up and useful.

    • DonnaCosmato profile image
      Author

      Donna Cosmato 5 years ago from USA

      Hi Shasta, it is exciting to look through our gardening catalogs and planning this year's crops, isn't it? I hope you have bountiful harvest:)

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      These are great ideas Donna, you have me excited about starting a garden this spring! Unfortunately, I could not convince my daughter to join me in gardening. Voted up.

    • DonnaCosmato profile image
      Author

      Donna Cosmato 5 years ago from USA

      Thanks for the kind words and compliments, tirelesstraveler! I hope you have lots of fun in your garden this season.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 5 years ago from California

      Your hub is like a breath of spring. Great ideas.

    • DonnaCosmato profile image
      Author

      Donna Cosmato 5 years ago from USA

      Thank you for reading and commenting on this gardening hub, alezafree! It's funny you would mention flower gardening as we have decided to branch out in that direction this year ourselves:)

    • alezafree profile image

      Aleza 5 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Voted up and useful! I am always looking for ways to involve my son in the gardening process. Right now it's a flower garden, but I'm hoping to move onto vegetables this spring. I will be back to read this again!

    • DonnaCosmato profile image
      Author

      Donna Cosmato 5 years ago from USA

      Thanks for stopping by to comment on this hub, alocsin. I love to look for teachable moments as that's when those little minds are most receptive to lesson.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Your idea to combine the growing of herbs and cooking with it is a great one for kids. They get to taste the fruits of their labors, so to speak. Voting this Up and Useful.

    • DonnaCosmato profile image
      Author

      Donna Cosmato 5 years ago from USA

      Thanks for bookmarking my hub, Eddy! I hope you and the grandchildren enjoy many happy days of gardening:)

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

      What a brillaint hub Donna and one which I am bookmarking for when the grandchildren come over.

      Thanks for sharing this great hub and here's to so many more to share on here.

      Take care and enjoy your day.

      Eddy.

    • DonnaCosmato profile image
      Author

      Donna Cosmato 5 years ago from USA

      Thanks Wendy, I'm glad this was helpful. I'm always looking for ways to work more physical activity into our little guy's schedule and gardening is the perfect vehicle. I hope your little one has fun puttering in the soil - after all, what child can resist an invitation to play in the dirt?

    • Wendy Finn profile image

      Wendy Finn 5 years ago from UK

      My little one loves to get outside and this has given me such great ideas to keep her busy. Useful as ever!

    • DonnaCosmato profile image
      Author

      Donna Cosmato 5 years ago from USA

      Hi Ricky (aka thelyricwriter) - aw, shucks, you make me blush with your kind words! Thanks for your ongoing support of my hubs:)

    • DonnaCosmato profile image
      Author

      Donna Cosmato 5 years ago from USA

      Hi LadyLyell - I so agree with you about the need for parental involvement in teaching vital life skills like gardening, housekeeping, cooking and so forth!

      It is sad that our available gardening patches are being plowed under for more and more shopping centers and parking lots, but with some ingenuity and good husbandry practices, one can still have a miniature garden almost anywhere:)

      Thanks so much for always reading and commenting on my work. I do appreciate you so much!

    • thelyricwriter profile image

      Richard Ricky Hale 5 years ago from West Virginia

      Voted up, useful, and awesome. I think it teaches children responsibility. It can be very fun for the kids. You list a lot of helpful information Donna. Your articles are great sources and you do them very good. Just thought I would mention it to you cause you deserve it. Very greatly written.

    • LadyLyell profile image

      LadyLyell 5 years ago from George, South Africa

      I couldn't think of anything better than for children to learn gardening for several reasons, most of which you mentioned.

      When I was a child most people had a vegetable garden and fruit trees unlike gardens these days (in Aust)therefore the children don't know where and how most produce comes from.

      The preschool my grandson goes to teaches gardening and the children daily water and watch the plants grow, so I'm delighted with this activity but mum and dad must do likewise.

      A really good hubpage!

    • DonnaCosmato profile image
      Author

      Donna Cosmato 5 years ago from USA

      Thanks, MM! Working with children is gratifying for the reasons that you mention - they are so open minded to new ideas and concepts. Plus, to them, everything is brand new (even ideas with which we might be bored). Thank you for you ongoing support of my writing; I so appreciate you:)

    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      Children are so much more receptive when learning becomes fun, you have some great ideas here to introduce children to gardening.

      Thank you and voted up.

    • DonnaCosmato profile image
      Author

      Donna Cosmato 5 years ago from USA

      Hi alwaysexploring - I'm so glad you liked this gardening hub! Gardening with kids (or grandkids) is a wonderful bonding experience isn't it? It sounds like you've got your granddaughter started on the right path:)

    • DonnaCosmato profile image
      Author

      Donna Cosmato 5 years ago from USA

      Thank you, Vellur, for reading and taking time to give me feedback on this hub. I appreciate you:)

    • DonnaCosmato profile image
      Author

      Donna Cosmato 5 years ago from USA

      Hi laurathegentleman! Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule as a student to share your thoughts about the joys of gardening. It sounds like you are on the right path with your houseplant, and I'm sure you will realize your dreams of a big garden patch someday:)

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 5 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I think it is a great idea, teaching children gardening. My granddaughter loves to watch her garden and flowers grow..Interesting article..Enjoyed

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 5 years ago from Dubai

      This is a great way of introducing gardening to kids. Great hub. Voted up.

    • laurathegentleman profile image

      laurathegentleman 5 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC

      This is wonderful! I wish my parents had spent more time teaching me how to garden. I have always loved plants and although I am currently living in a cinderblock cell (ah, the joys of college dorms...) and only have one houseplant, having a big, blooming backyard is a dream of mine for someday! I look forward to trying to figure out what things grow best and how to care for certain kinds of plants, and one day I WILL teach my kids the joys of gardening! :)

    • DonnaCosmato profile image
      Author

      Donna Cosmato 5 years ago from USA

      Thank you so much for your kinds words and feedback tsmog. I'm so glad you found this hub to be educational.

    • tsmog profile image

      Tim Mitchell 5 years ago from Escondido, CA

      Awesome and interesting for sure. Experiments are fun, especially when learning is made fun. Great hub sharing these skills and mindset. Little ones are eager in the morning when awakening to see how much the seedling has changed. Nice!

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