Saturday, February 4, 2012

Your Child's First Garden

Photograph by John Sullivan
Gardening can be a wonderful experience for small children. The trick is to not make it too challenging. In general, anything planted in a child's garden should be:
  • Easy to grow
  • Interesting or attractive
  • Useful
  • Safe for children
In terms of flowers, I think the easiest to grow are zinnias and marigolds. No contest. I don't even know if it's possible to kill a marigold. Both of these flowers are also very sturdy and easy to pick for arrangements and bouquets -- something nearly every child loves doing.

Nasturiums and four o'clocks are pretty easy, too, and morning glories aren't too bad if you're willing to help out with the whole climbing-the-the-trellis thing. Nasturiums have the added benefit of being edible -- both flowers and leaves -- although if your children are very young, this may not be a practice you want to encourage. 

Among the vegetables, beans and peas are probably the easiest to plant and care for. Your child will enjoy planting them, tending them, and picking the results. Peas are an early plant, too, so you'll be able to reuse the territory after they're harvested.

Corn is another vegetable that's easy to grow. Just be sure to think about where you're planting it, as it tends to provide a lot of shade for the garden once it really gets going. The same thing goes for sunflowers, a cheerful flower that also provides a product: delicious seeds both for snack time and to feed the birds this winter. (Or the pet hamster, if your child has one.)

If you decide to grow tomatoes, I'd recommend just picking up a couple of plants at the corner store. You can grow them from seeds, but it's a lot of work, and not worth the effort, in my book. The same goes for peppers.

Your child might enjoy planting onions from sets, because it's a little different from the normal type of seed planting. Potatoes, too, might make an interesting change.

Many people think it's a good idea to have your child to plant broccoli and cauliflower, in an effort to encourage them to eat more of them. These people have obviously never tried to grow broccoli or cauliflower. Personally, I love both of those vegetables but I don't love to grow them. (And, if your child ever gets a look at a bug-infested broccoli plant, he'll likely never touch the vegetable again.)

Whatever you chose to plant, make sure that both you and your child have fun doing it. And don't get too ambitious. Your child may be excited to plant a lot of vegetables, but the excitement will pale once she realized she's got to weed it, too.

Photo credit: Photograph by John Sullivan, who released it into the public domain on Wikimedia Commons.

No comments:

Post a Comment