Growing veggies, pulling weeds, digging for earthworms…the garden is a natural springboard for countless backyard adventures. And the best part about it is that you don’t have to be a farmer or a professional landscaper to do it! In fact, planting a garden is an activity the entire family can enjoy together. If you think gardening with the kiddos might be too much work or that your family’s “green thumb” may have skipped a generation, here’s 5 reasons that will hopefully get you motivated to get yourself (and your kids) outside in the dirt this summer!
1. APPRECIATION OF FOOD – In today’s world of convenience and processed foods, an understanding of where food comes from and the work that goes into producing it is often lost in a bunch of plastic packaging. But that doesn’t mean it’s not important. Growing a veggie or two can go a long way toward lessons in sustainable agriculture. And don’t forget the added benefit that kids are much more likely to get psyched on eating a homegrown veggie than a storebought one.
2. APPRECIATION OF NATURE – I often write about the need to get kids disconnected from electronic technology and reconnected with nature. LINK! Planting beautiful flowers is an easy (and aesthetic!) way to do just that. With a garden comes countless chances for both sensory and scientific exploration – from dirt and compost to bugs and butterflies!
3. LIFE LESSONS – In addition to the scientific lessons surrounding the life cycle of a caterpillar or how a plant grows from a seed, a garden is very fertile ground for deep, meaningful conversations with your child about life, death, and other spiritual matters. Regardless of your religious (or non-religious) affiliation, the newness of spring and dying back of winter are powerful metaphors for life.
4. RESPONSIBILITIES – From an early age children can take pride in their hard work in the garden. Digging, watering, sowing, reaping, and don’t forget the all-too-important skill of WAITING are gardening duties that most children associate more with play than work!
5. QUALITY TIME – While the seeds you sow in the garden will last for only a season, the seeds you sow in your child’s heart will last for a lifetime. Whether it’s digging in the dirt alongside a happy-go-lucky 2 year old, harvesting a crop of corn with a proud and hard-working 8 year old, or listening to the latest middle school gossip from your pre-teen while you both pull weeds, the garden can be a catalyst for family memories that you will always look back on and cherish.
If you’d like to get into gardening but feel overwhelmed, begin with baby steps. Maybe start a small container garden on your back patio, or plant some pretty perennials around your mailbox. Add a little bit more every year, and before you know it you’ll have a yard bursting with color, texture, taste, fragrance, and hopefully…a little adventure!
Does your family garden together? Still being relatively new in our Charlotte home, we planted mostly perennials last year and this year added a few veggies – various lettuces, spinach, and peas! Feel free to share your families garden habits (and secrets, if you dare!)