A great family activity at this time of year is planting a garden together. Growing plants with your kids not only teaches them about nature, but inspires nurturing, discipline, patience and a good work ethic. Plus, it’s a great way for everyone to shut off their TVs, put away their cell phones and gaming devices for a while and get out in the fresh air for some quality family time.
My 18-year-old daughter, Carolyn, has enjoyed growing a vegetable garden at our home in Glenburn Township during recent years, and my granddaughter, Rachel, now 6, has enjoyed helping her “Aunt Kiki” by pulling weeds and watering the plants. She has been delighted to watch the different stages of planting and has been thrilled to pick vegetables after they are grown. She also has enjoyed watering my potted flowers.
The intensity of your garden project varies according to your desire, the amount of time you have available and the level of green in your thumb. Right now, my thumb is probably at the earthy brown stage, my point being that you don’t have to be an expert gardener to grow awesome plants.
Here are some great tips from The American Community Gardening Association (ACGA), with some side notes by me:
• Kid gardens must be kid-based. (They come up with the ideas and do most of the work. You show them how and supervise.)
• Develop the garden to be appropriate for the site and regional conditions. (Work with the character of your backyard. If conditions aren’t garden-friendly, try raised or container gardens.)
• Focus on functional garden design, not how it will look. (In other words, be practical and let your kids have fun. The end result is more important than the aesthetics of the garden itself.)
• Be comfortable with dirt. (No explanation necessary.)
• Bugs and crawly critters are cool. (This is another great thing to teach them. Don’t be afraid of nature.)
• No chemicals. (Keep safety in mind for your plants, your kids and the animals around you.)
• Grow some things to eat. (I love this idea. Kids are such picky eaters, especially when it comes to fruits and vegetables. Chances are they will be more eager to try something they have grown themselves.)
• Reinforce the lessons from the garden while indoors. (Talk to your kids about their garden and/or plants. Take pictures, put them on Facebook, make scrapbooks. Show them you are interested!)
• Keep it fun. (Keep the day-to-day stresses of grown-up world out of the garden.)
• Gardening is a powerful experience for children. (Your kids will be proud of themselves for creating something so special of their own.)
After all the hard work is done, you and your kids can enjoy your beautiful flowers or vegetables together. You have made memories and have created a special bond that will last a lifetime.
TERI LYON IS AN EXPERIENCED MOM, GRANDMOM AND FREELANCE WRITER WHO LIVES IN GLENBURN TOWNSHIP WITH THE YOUNGEST OF HER THREE DAUGHTERS AND THEIR CAT.