I love the thrill of growing food we can eat and flowers to enjoy every year. I probably come by it honestly – my dad grew up on a farm, and grew a huge garden for as long as I lived at home and for many years afterward. Even now, in his 70s, he grows a garden bigger than most and has yummy produce!
Anyway, I’m not as good at it as my dad has always been but I do love “real” homegrown tomatoes that actually have a taste, and it makes me happy to grow my own each summer. I especially love involving my kids in the process.
Every year for Mother’s Day my kids help me purchase our flowers and veggies for the year. We always try tomatoes, often in pots because of where we have lived. We also like to grow lettuce and have tried squash, zucchini, and peppers too.
This year I am trying to grow cucumbers and watermelon. We will see if I succeed. We have a big pot of lettuce growing that I can’t wait to use. I also planted 7 different tomato plants — this time in the ground. Hopefully God will bless my efforts since I am more used to planting in pots.
Each year, the kids also spend the afternoon on Mother’s Day helping me plant. We layer each pot with gravel or broken pots for drainage, fill it up with potting soil, add in some fertilizer, and place the plants. Then we water like crazy. We dig holes in the ground, break up the soil with a shovel, add some fertilizer, and place the plants. And water like crazy.
It seems to me that the flowers perk up almost immediately when replanted properly to a bigger pot and given water. It’s interesting – I know they had water at the nursery so the only thing I can think of that makes them perk up so quickly is the fact that we break up the roots a bit and give them new soil. And we do love enjoying our beautiful flowers.
But what we really want are those tomatoes!
And we wait. I water every day, and I have the kids add egg shells to the pots and soil every once in a while. I fertilize every couple of weeks. And we wait some more. And eventually, we eat some very yummy tomatoes.
I get the kids involved in my gardening efforts for a multitude of reasons.
1. They need to learn that food comes from plants we can grow. They need to see this process and recognize the value of home-grown or organically grown produce. They need to taste the difference between “real” tomatoes and those hydroponic ones we are forced to eat in winter.
2. They need to see the fruits of labor, and this is a very real and unmatched visual demonstration of the “fruits of labor.”
3. They need to depend on God for their needs, and planting vegetables is an awesome reminder that he is the ultimate creator and provider.
4. They need to experience this piece of their heritage. It is not enough to pick corn and beans while on vacation at Grandpa’s. This is part of who we are as a family, as children of God, and as Americans.
5. It’s science and it points to our creator God.
I’ve also discovered that kids can do so much more than we expect. This year, my nine-year-old took over the shovel and did almost all of the digging, breaking up the soil, and then letting his other sibling place the plants.
He did an amazing job, learned our system very quickly, and basically planted the last five or six plants out of 25 all by himself with a little help from his sister who would drop the plants into the hole he made. I think there were only two times that big brother or Dad had to take over the shovel when the ground was too hard! He dug something like 22 holes by himself!
In other years, my older children have learned to properly water the pots (until the water runs out the drainage hole each and every time) and have done that chore for me when I wasn’t available. Even my little guys will go out and help me weed out the stray grass or dead-head the petunias!
Letting your kids help as much as possible will give them a sense of ownership and accomplishment.
I’ve outlined how we do gardening with kids above, but I’ve also searched out 25 different and fun ways to enjoy gardening with your kids. I especially love numbers 5 and 19. I love them all actually. These are all great projects to get our kids involved in gardening and enjoying the process. Dig in!
Frugal ways to start seeds indoors from Premeditated Leftovers.
A guide to edible flowers from Illustrated Bites
Grow ingredients for a pizza from Kids Gardening (scroll down)
Seven kid-friendly seeds to plant from She Knows
How to make a dinosaur garden from Fun at Home With Kids
Fifteen ways to get kids in the garden from Relish
Make a Jack & The Beanstalk themed garden project from Parents.com
How to grow seeds with toddlers from Playdough to Pluto
How to convert a sandbox to a vegetable garden from Dan Made It
Ten flowers to grow with kids from The Educator’s Spin On It
Plan for an easy child’s vegetable garden from Better Homes and Gardens
Create a butterfly garden from HGTV Gardens
How to grow a sunflower house from Let’s Lasso the Moon
Indoor egg carton greenhouses to start seeds from Hazel and Co
How to start a compost heap from Skinny Mom
Grow a cucumber in a bottle from Parents.com
Grow herbs mentioned in Peter Rabbit from Carrots Are Orange
25 foods you can regrow from kitchen scraps DIYN Crafts
How to make a wormery from Nurture Store
Introducing little ones to gardening from Little House Living
Self watering containers from Dream Garden 101
Plant flowers in their old rain boots from Rosy Posy
How to make a “seed bomb” from One Hundred Dollars a Month