5 Tips for Starting a Fruit and Vegetable Garden with Your Kids!
By Rachel Davidson-Evans, BASc
Reviewed by: Atheana Brown RD
Get out those green thumbs and outside, it is that time of year again! Gardening is an activity people of all ages can learn from and enjoy, and nothing compares to the pride of eating something you have grown yourself. Gardening with children is a great opportunity for inspiring lifelong learning, fun, and fostering an environment for creativity, independence, and nature lovers. Starting a garden can seem like a daunting task, so today we are going to discuss how to make gardening a rewarding experience for everyone! Keep reading for some tips to starting a fruit or vegetable garden with your children- and don’t forget that sunscreen!
Plan Your Plot
Most importantly, scout out where you want your garden to be! There are many factors that can influence where and what you choose to grow, including space, sun exposure, and how close your garden will be to water sources.
Don’t have a backyard? Don’t fret! Start with simple pots and seeds inside by a sunny window instead. Growing from seeds is not only cheaper but may be the most captivating and educational for your kids to watch the entire growing process! When planning your space, try to dedicate a small space for your kids to call their own, even if that means just a few pots. Letting your children be in charge of their own garden is a great way to encourage independence, confidence, and responsibility.
Finally, brainstorm what fruits and veggies your littles love and want to see grown in the garden. Consider those with a variety of textural and sensory qualities too! Some of my favourite crops to grow are lettuce, basil, tomatoes, strawberries, and cucumbers.
Visit a Garden Centre
Not only are visits to garden centres a fun activity with children, but they are incredibly helpful with planning and inspiration too. Do not be afraid to ask an employee about what they recommend and what space you and the family envision, they really know their stuff! Try to pick native plants when available and don’t forget to check plant tags for their zone, spacing, sun exposure, and other common requirements. Remember, while buying starters can save time, children may learn more about the growth process by starting from seeds. If starting from seeds, be sure to start them indoors and not plant them outside right away or they will not survive the heat of the sunshine, something my brother and his fiancé learned recently!
Also, when gardening with children, suitable sized tools and safety is important. Investing in good sturdy tools for kids can help ease frustration and difficulty in the garden and a garden centre will likely have them or be able to point you in the right direction for where to find them. Must haves at Atheana’s home include a water can, gloves and small hand tools. One gardening tool set per child is key so there are no issues there.
Make it Fun
Gardening with children can sometimes seem like a chore, but it does not have too! Keep children engaged by keeping tasks simple, suitable for their age, and monitor their physical capabilities and enjoyment. Some great activities for younger children include watering, light digging, planting seeds, and harvesting, while older children can help dig, plant, weed, prune, and carry! Alongside tasks, make time for fun, creativity, and education. A quick trip to the dollar store can provide some extra tools for endless fun! A few dollar store magnifying glasses make the perfect gadget for nature scavenger hunts, a personal favourite activity I remember as a kid! Paint and some flower pots or stones can also provide an endless canvas for creative minds. When all else fails, dirt and mud pies never fail to entertain.
Practice Makes Perfect
Especially when starting a fruit or vegetable garden with your kids for the first time, do not be discouraged if all you envisioned for your garden does not go to plan. Remember that every success and “failure” are valuable lessons for you and your little ones on your future gardening endeavours! Do not be afraid to get messy and make mistakes, it will only help you learn in the long run. Keeping a garden journey is a great way to remember do’s and don’ts for next year.
Now for the best part, enjoy your hard work! Gardening is such an important life skill for adults and little ones alike. It is so rewarding to eat food that you have grown with your family. Harvesting and cooking with your young ones is another amazing skill, and makes the journey so worth it! Look for recipes that highlight your amazing produce and get cooking! Vegetable soups, fresh salads, delicious desserts, the possibilities are endless!
Happy gardening everyone! I hope you learned a few tips about gardening with children and how to start a fruit and vegetable garden. Plan, research, and most of all, have fun! If you give fruit and veggie gardening a try with your little ones, let me know how it goes! Already have a garden? Leave your go-to crops and favourite tips and tricks down below!