Gardening with Children

I’ve been spending time out in the yard, finalizing my plan for spring 2017.  It’s spring break, so my kids are right there with me!  They point out every insect, woolly caterpillar and spider they find exploring with us. This is the first year that my oldest has shown interest in “the plan” for our yard and garden. She reminded me that last fall, I mentioned it might be nice to plant vines along the fence out back and have a fence contractor expanding the fence a litle more, and that she could select the varieties of tomatoes we will plant in the vegetable garden this spring. She remembered me talking about changing the patio tiles and asked me how to pick mosaic tiles. My years of planting bulbs with her each fall, devoting yard space to a sunflower fort, and growing a pizza garden in the shape of a pizza slice, seem to be paying off! She’s become comfortable and confident in the garden and looks forward to the work and the reward of it. Gardening with children doesn’t have to be as involved as my list above.  Enchanted or miniature gardens grown in containers on a porch, a strawberry pot with ever-bearing strawberries out on the deck, or a single tomato plant growing in a large pot on a sunny patio, can produce the same fun, excitement, and reward on a smaller, more manageable scale. I’ve been found to visit more and more lately, they offer me inspiration for the garden whenever I am lacking in fresh ideas.

Each spring I organize a very special event at the nursery called, Kid’s Planting Day!  It’s an hour-long event that gets children and their parent(s) “playing” in the potting mix.  After everyone has rinsed their hands off under the hose and headed off to enjoy their afternoon, I am left with a beautiful assortment of childrens’ planters.  Each carefully filled with potting mix, blooming annuals, and a name tag.  At the nursery we care for the planters.  We pinch them back, deadhead and feed them.  We keep them warm and watered so that in two weeks, when the kiddos return to pick them up, they have a beautiful and growing gift to give to a special woman in their life on Mother’s Day weekend.  Kid’s Planting Day has become an annual tradition for some of our young families. It’s fun to see them return each spring to get their hands dirty, enjoy a spring day in the greenhouse with us, and to see the pride and joy in childrens’ faces when they stop in to pick up their full and blooming planters. I dug up some memories of Kid’s Planting Day on our Knecht’s Facebook Page, and hope they will inspire you to share the importance and fun of green and growing things with a child in your life!