Gardening with your children means they'll be learning lifelong lessons and values.
The key to gardening success (especially with kids) is to grow in EarthBox® container gardening systems, no matter how little the hands or the experience. The secret is that there can be no overwatering––a main reason plants fail to thrive when otherwise well-cared for––if your kids or grandkids have a tendency to go overboard with the watering can.
Gardening with your children means they'll be learning lifelong lessons and values, and it makes for a great time to bond with one another. Growing food will teach your young ones where it comes from, how they can be part of the production process, and healthy eating habits. When children help create and care for plants, they learn responsibility, independence, teamwork, problem solving, patience, and discovery. . .
Get Started by Designing a Plan
Involve your children in planning the garden, giving them age-appropriate tasks and choices. Plants that have big seeds, like cucumbers, peas, pumpkins, squash, and sunflowers are great for small hands. There are many fast growing plants, such as beans, lettuce, radishes, spinach, and Swiss chard that eager kids can see quickly.
Kid-friendly choices include:
- Sturdy plants like bush or pole beans, sunflowers, and marigolds.
- Plants with bite-size produce for easy munching, such as cherry tomatoes and snow peas.
- The container garden version of a touch tank: fuzzy (dusty miller); prickly (squash vines); rubbery (begonias); and smooth (peppers).
- Plants of different sizes like tall sunflowers, huge-leaved squashes, and tiny-leaved thyme.
- Lettuces such as Romaine that grow quickly to keep kids interested.
A visually compelling night-flowering garden might be just the ticket to engage your teens. Evening primrose, angel's trumpet, and night-blooming cereus are excellent choices.
Choose an EarthBox® System
After you've chosen the plant types, it's time to determine how many EarthBox® gardening systems, and which types, you need. There are a number of things to consider:
- The EarthBox® Junior™ is great for small hands, and can grow fast-growing greens and herbs.
- For root crops such as carrots, turnips, and beets; or a patio tomato, the EarthBox® Root and Veg is ideal.
- Any larger-growing plants like eggplant, peppers, and Summer squash are perfect to grow in the Original EarthBox® gardening system. Vining plants such as indeterminate tomatoes, Winter squash, or pole beans will need the added Staking System for support.
- Does your child enjoy crafts, or are they creative? The white-colored EarthBox® gardening systems are excellent for self-expression. Elmer’s® Painters® markers are a great non-toxic way to for your children to decorate and personalize their own garden.
- For educators who want to use the EarthBox® system in their classrooms for teaching, STEM-based curricula for students of all ages (Pre-K through 12th Grade) are a great way to get everyone involved.
Also keep in mind how to plant for best results. This planting guide will provide you with plant and fertilizer placements, so you know how many seeds or seedlings to purchase. Also, be sure to use plant foods and a growing medium approved for EarthBox. We have step-by-step instructions to help you with the planting process.
Organize Your Garden Helpers
Once your EarthBox® systems are set up and plants are ready, it's time to get your gardening crew together. Small children will need to be supervised, but can reach a sense of mastery if given some autonomy and a lot of encouragement. Older children and teens may want to ask a friend or two to join them in growing.
Growing an EarthBox® garden will help your children assert their independence, and give them a sense of pride and self-expression. Or, your teen might prefer a project to share with friends -- for example, a chance to dabble in the kitchen making smoothies from homegrown strawberries, herbs, and other greens. A summer EarthBox® garden also offers opportunities for community service. Teens can use gardening projects to help obtain Scout badges, or to donate their harvest to a local food pantry or shelter.
Earth's Young Stewards
The best way to teach our children to care for our Earth is to start caring for it with them. What better way to do so than by growing fresh food together? Whether this will be the first gardening experience for your young charges or their 21st, the wonder of growing something natural, beautiful, and edible with their own hands will have a long-lasting impact. Make this a moment to remember for you and your children!
"Why try to explain miracles to your kids when you can just have them plant a garden." – Robert Brault
Tell us in the comments:What is your favorite crop to grow with your kids or grandchildren? Tell us your gardening traditions or share your heartwarming story with us!