Do your kids turn up their noses at vegetables on their plates? Getting them involved in growing those veggies will go a long way toward changing that. A child’s natural curiosity and desire to be included in adult activities can be tapped in a gardening project. First, be sure to tailor the child’s involvement to his or her age level. A three-year-old has a shorter attention span and less physical capability than a ten-year-old. Second, keep things light and fun. Even the so-called “work” parts will be enjoyable if you bring an attitude of excitement and adventure to the project.
I advocate building a vegetable garden in the least labor-intensive way no matter what your age. There is no need for back-breaking double digging, or even digging at all if you follow the steps in my article How to Start a Vegetable Garden the Easy Way.
You can involve the kids in many, if not all, of the steps along the way. Holding one end of the string while you lay out the garden, performing go for duty when you need a tool, and accompanying you to the nursery to pick out seeds and plants are all things kids will enjoy.
Providing children with kid-sized tools is a good way to make them feel they are valued helpers. Don’t worry if the garden rows aren’t perfectly straight or the soil not absolutely smooth – it’s fun and involvement we’re aiming for here, not perfection.
Reserve a small section of the garden just for them. They will probably want guidance from you but remember, there are no such things as mistakes, only opportunities to learn. So use a light hand when it comes to instruction. Let each child decide what he or she will grow. The joy on their faces when they harvest their “own” produce will be priceless – be sure to have your camera handy. And it just may lead to more veggies on their plates – voluntarily!