Spring! My favorite season of the year! There are so many reasons why I love the Spring. After the cold, dark winter, Spring makes things feel refreshed and new. It’s such a happy, colorful time of year in my opinion. The flowers are blooming. Baby animals are born. The sun is shining more and the days are getting longer. I could go on and on.
This is why I’ve started to love gardening. It seems like such a Spring thing to do. Although, I do have a little secret. I pretty much kill everything I try to grow. I have a brown thumb literally, but it seems to ring true in the planting world too. I’m trying to change that though (in the planting world, of course). Even if a lot of the time my husband has to remind me or help me keep my plants alive.
I caught the garden bug a few years back when we moved into our last house. The previous homeowners had built garden boxes in the backyard. I figured I might as well give gardening a try. I was given a head start. My girls loved helping me plant the seeds and take care of them. They’d follow me outside every day to see if anything new had happened. It’s so fun to see your plants actually start growing. And if they didn’t, oh well. It was like a mini-experiment.
When we moved houses again I knew I wanted to continue gardening. It was important for me to find a way to keep doing the things I love. Gardening doesn’t require a lot. It was a hobby that we could still enjoy doing together while we got used to our new surroundings.
Gardening is easy to do alongside your kids. I’ve realized it doesn’t have to be perfect. There are so many benefits to gardening with kids that outweigh having it all perfectly planned. It can be fun to do together even if your plants DON’T grow. Here are just a few of the ways that you can benefit from gardening with your kids:
✔️It’s a lesson in science without teaching it.
✔️You’re spending time outdoors in nature.
✔️You’re spending quality time together.
✔️Communication skills get better.
✔️Kids will learn the responsibility of taking care of something.
✔️You get to enjoy the fruits of your own labor (literally) and maybe save a little money.
✔️It calms and grounds you.
✔️There are a few math skills you’ll practice.
✔️It’s a break from technology
Let’s Get Dirty!
Don’t forget that kids usually love to get a little dirty. So let them! Whether or not they like to get down and dirty, they’re probably going to get dirty. Do yourself a favor and put them in clothes you don’t mind getting a few stains. Or, just save yourself the stress and let them get a little dirty in whatever they’re wearing. I used to be a parent concerned with staying clean, but my children have taught me some great lessons about letting go during playtime. My girls would choose to wear a fancy dress at any given time. Sometimes it’s not worth the battle in the grand scheme of things (for me anyway). We like to wear our wellies and gardening gloves, but feel free to take off the gloves and let your hands feel the cool, soft soil.
Reading the Seed Packets
I do actually read the planting instructions on the back of the seed packets. I’m such a rule follower! I really am, but in this case, I thought if I want these seeds to grow, I better follow whatever help they give me. Most of the packets tell whether or not you should start growing the seeds indoors and transfer them later, or if you should grow the seeds directly in the ground. Some of them also tell if it is a plant that should only be grown in a greenhouse setting. I either never read this much on the back of the packet, or never noticed it. Anyways, very helpful if you’re a newbie gardener like me.
After reading all of that seed packet information I had more of a plan. Now, I don’t want you to think I’m that good. I partitioned my garden bed into twelve in squares to easily give space to different veggies and fruit I was planting. Remember that things may take a little longer when you have younger children helping you. I let them help for as long as they’re willing. When they’re done, I finish up on my own. I’m sure that’s a familiar parenting skill. It doesn’t work when they want to be there with you every step of the way. In that case, it’s okay because I’ve included them and made it their hobby too.
So, back to my story about seed packets. My husband came along and decided to plant something where I’d already planted some seeds. He’d just assumed I hadn’t started planting anything since he couldn’t see anything growing (“seeds do take time, honey”). I had to move his plants and realized I’d forgotten what I had started.
Then, the Aha moment came. I’ll sort the seed packet groups according to which seeds need to be sowed outdoors or indoors. If the seed packet indicates both ways, then I’ll choose one way and put its group. If it needs to be started in a seed propagator then I’ll make a pile for that. And since some plants always do well in a greenhouse or inside then that will have its own pile. You can take it a step further. Read up on what fruits and veggies should grow next to each other and can complement the flavor. Don’t forget that kids love to sort, especially little ones, so let them help in the garden planning. There! Now we’re organized and we’ve even covered a math skill, sorting.
Where to Plant
We know my new garden didn’t start off so planned. As I had mentioned before, we moved. I really wanted to get back into my hobbies. That can be hard when you’re living somewhere temporarily. So I started researching different ways I could make a mobile garden. I wanted to be able to pick it up and move it with me. On top of that, I also had to research living in a new climate. How could I make a garden that could move with me? I didn’t want to spend tons of money. I didn’t know where I’d be going and what my garden space would look like in our more permanent home.
Good old Pinterest helped me find the perfect solution. I made little greenhouses using two and three-liter plastic milk containers. It was the best idea and the most cost-effective than what I’d been looking at. I could plant my seeds inside the jugs and just leave them. The seeds sprouted immediately. I left them alone for the winter. As soon as Spring came, everything just shot up. I have to decide if I’ll leave them or replant some of them into my garden boxes.
I have dreams of having a big greenhouse with all kinds of fruit and veggies growing inside. I’ll need to practice a little more before I start that level of gardening. Plus, they’re a little expensive, so my husband said he’d build me one. That’s one more thing added to the long list of other things he said he’d “just build.” In the meantime, these are some of the places I’ve decided to plant my garden. And guess what? Some of the girls helped me set everything up.
- Garden boxes
- Raised beds on legs
- Rock garden for flowers
- 2 and 3 liter plastic mil containers
Easy Plants to Grow
Luckily there are flowers and vegetables that are easy to grow and I need easy! For now, I like instant gratification. I want to see those little seeds start sprouting right away. This is great for kids too. It’s easier to get them to enjoy it when they get fast results. I also like to buy some of the plants at a local nursery to transplant into the ground. Sometimes it’s easier to get the plant going that way. Maybe when I get better at gardening I can start to complicate things. By then, the kids might be ready for something more challenging.
More on Where and What to Plant
One of the reasons I’ve had to pay more attention to the seed packets is because I was used to growing my plants in a much warmer climate with little rain. My plants would end up getting scorched during the summer heat. We already know I’m not great at watering and you can’t forget to water during the summer months in California. Now I’m living in a completely opposite climate. I went from drought to an overabundance of rain. My garden lifestyle went from the poor little plants being sucked dry to drowning! Whether I’m in wet or dry climates, these are some of the plants we’ve had luck with growing. I’ve either grown them in the past or I’m trying them out this time around.
Fruits and Vegetables
We’ve been able to eat our own tomatoes, strawberries, corn, peppers, and radishes.
I have to say I haven’t really gotten into flower gardening. I’m more interested in growing plants that I know I can eat. When I am looking to add a little beauty to the garden, these are the flowers that I’ve been known to go with. I don’t go too far from the theme “easy to grow” and I’ve had some success with the flowers I’ve listed. That also means the girls and I can enjoy what we’ve planted. When life gets busy, it’s nice to know they won’t die if I happen to skip the watering here and there. I know our little garden will be okay.
- Daffodils and other bulb flowers
- Milkweed for butterflies
One of my girls was sent home from school with an envelope full of wildflower seeds. I’m tempted to have her just throw them around wherever we want to see color. It might be a fun little experiment.
Maybe I’m a little bit of a messy gardener. What’s important is that we find the fun in it even if it isn’t perfect. We can apply that in all aspects of life, right? I guess that’s why I called myself “The Adaptable Mom.”
Even if you’re an avid gardener, you might not have thought about how you can include your kids in your hobby. And if your garden is beautiful unlike mine is (yet!), then start a small section for your kids’ own garden space. Then when mommy or daddy gardens, they can tend to their own. They’ll be all in if you take a trip to the dollar/euro store and buy them their own gardening tools, seed packets, and gloves. The wellies are important too! Anyway, I hope I’ve given you a few reasons to love gardening with kids. I’d like to think that my story of how I got started gardening with kids, will help you start if you haven’t already.