I love gardening, and I love including my kids.
I’m still pretty new to gardening so I’m learning as I go, but I find it the perfect opportunity to let my daughter learn alongside me. I hope by the time my son is old enough to help out, I will be even more experienced and can teach them better. Today I want to share some tips on how to garden with your preschooler.
As with anything else you do with kids, patience is key. It takes a little bit longer to do things, but it is so worth it. You’ll have a few broken plants and that’s ok.
Choose some familiar favorites, and some new things to try.
My daughter loves tomatoes, so we always plant a row of both big and cherry tomatoes. She loves to go to the garden and at tomatoes right off the vine.
**Side note: don’t spray anything in or around your garden that isn’t safe to eat because kids love to sample while they work**
If your preschooler has some favorite veggies, see if you can add those to your garden.
To add some interest and encourage your whole family to try new things, pick at least one new vegetable that you’ve either never planted or never eaten before. Show them the tag for each plant and let them pick out the plants they want to buy. (This is also a good time to work on counting and talk about how the plants look a bit different from each other)
Let them plant seeds.
Some vegetables get planted as seeds, or you can start your own plants from seeds early in the spring. I think this is one of the best parts about gardening with kids. They love to dig in the dirt and place the tiny seeds and cover them. It doesnt have to be perfect, so let them enjoy the process.
Be prepared to get wet.
Your child will probably turn the hose on you at some point this summer, which will be hilarious. At least to them, anyway. Let’s be honest, it’s a thousand degrees outside and you’re covered in dirt, it’s nice to cool off a bit.
Again, this is all about the learning process and spending time with your little ones. Let them have fun, and to enjoy learning with you.
Weeding may be a little more difficult.
Remember when I said you have to have patience? Well this is probably the hardest part. It will take some time for your kiddo to learn the difference between weeds and plants. Depending on the age of the child and how –ahem– enthusiastic they are, you may choose to do this part yourself for a while. I try to give my daughter a small section to work on that isn’t super close to any plants until they’re big enough to tell apart from the weeds. If you can find some weeds that look a lot different from the plants nearby, it will help.
Now comes the fun part!
Gardening in general is fun, sure. But the best part is definitely harvesting the product of your labor. Show your child how to tell when each vegetable is ripe, and how to gently pick them and put them in a bag or basket. It is easiest to start with vegetables that change colors a lot. My daughter knows that tomatoes are ready when they are bright red, but is still learning when to pick peppers that stay green but grow in size. Be sure to point out if there are any vegetables that they don’t want to eat off the vine, such as hot peppers.
Special tools aren’t necessary, but they do help.
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Kids can easily dig and pull weeds by hand, but some child size tools are also fun for them to learn to use (and adorable). You might consider purchasing a shovel and garden hoe, a pair of kids gardening gloves, and an adjustable sprayer for the garden hose.
Do you have any other tips on how to garden with your preschooler? Share them below in the comments!