Sunday, April 10, 2011

My Top 10 Reasons to Garden with the Kids

You've probably noticed by now that I'm a big fan of gardening.  Not only does it save us money, but it saves other resources as well.  But the question comes up in a lot of parents' minds of what do I do with the kids while I'm gardening????  Well, here's your answer:  have them help!  These are my top 10 reasons to garden with the kids.

These aren't in any particular order, largely because I can't figure out how I should rank them.  They're all pretty darn important.  How important each one is to me might vary dramatically from day to day or even hour to hour!  So here they are:

1.  It's easy to get kids to eat their veggies when they helped grow them.  I honestly have no idea why so many people complain that it's so hard to get kids to eat fruits and vegetables.  I've never had a problem with it, but I think that might be in part because I started the kids out in the garden at a very young age.
Okay, these aren't garden vegetables (it's actually a veggie tray my mother-in-law brought over for the kids), but you can see how the kids are suffering by being "forced" to eat them!  That poor tray did not last long around them.

2.  A lot can be learned about science from a garden.  If my kids went to school, they'd probably do some little experiment at some point involving growing a bean plant or have to do horrid worksheets on the life science of plants, or read some dry book about how plants grow.  By being out in the garden, they're learning all of this and much more simply by living.  Learning's a lot more fun (and sticks with you more) when it isn't forced on you!

3.  They know to respect the garden.  A lot of times in the past, I've had trouble with neighbor kids tromping through my garden or pulling up plants without permission.  My kids know better.  Because they are intimately involved in the growing of the garden, they have a stake in not damaging it.  Not only does this knowledge apply to my garden, but if we go to someone else's house, they understand to respect the garden there too because of their experiences at home.

4.  They learn to respect the Earth and all the things on it.  Growing things and getting one's hands dirty in the soil create a connection that is soul deep.  They learn to see the interconnectedness of all things this way.
photo from a Jackson Citizen Patriot article last year about my family treating every day like Earth Day
5.  In this busy world, gardening together is a great time to spend bonding time together.  'Nough said.

6.  You don't have to worry what the kids are up to while you're out working on the garden.  Compared to some of these things, this may seem like a minor one, but, trust me, when you're pressed for time and trying to hurry and get one more crop of spinach planted so it will be ready for a fall harvest, this can be critical!

7. Give a man a turnip, he'll eat for a day; teach a kid to garden, he'll eat for a lifetime...or something like that.  By teaching kids to garden, you are blessing them with a life skill that will help ensure that they'll never have to go hungry, no matter what their fortunes in life bring them.

8.  Whether it be by helping out in a community garden or by sharing extra produce from a home garden, gardening isn't really a solitary activity.  By helping out, kids can see that they can (and should!) help others in a very important, meaningful way.

Kids working at Jackson Victory Gardens in Jackson, MI
9.  It helps build self-esteem.  The look of pride on a child's eyes when they discover some wonderful thing they've grown is beyond priceless!  That sense of pride can carry on to other parts of their lives too.
This carrot, which my son pulled himself, was as big around as a zucchini!
10.  It gets the kids outside!  In a day and age when a majority of kids suffer from Nature Deficit Disorder and rickets is a growing concern because kids aren't spending enough time outside to get their needed vitamin D from the sun, this may be one of the important ones!

 Ready to get dirty with the kids, but don't know where to start?  Here's a couple books that might help you get started:


  1. Great post! People always think it is funny that my kids know the difference between annuals and perennials and can identify plants. They help us in the garden all the time. They love getting their hands dirty! In addition to being outdoors, learning about gardening it also stimulates their creativity!

  2. I agree, it really is a wonderful learning activity for kids. More and more children community gardens are popping up all over, and for the reasons that you mentioned.

  3. Yes, yes, yes!! We involve our children in the gardens too. Had the teenagers build a wall over the weekend..the girls really like the flower and fruit gardens.....drop by anytime.

  4. My parents use to have a big organic veg garden for the local country market. Growing up, on our birthday we use to get or own cordoned off plot in the garden with ribbon cutting ceremony and all. We all loved it!

  5. we have always had a big garden our children all helped in it now that they are older they have gardens of their own anyway some of them do b ut that is their choice you are to be commended not many put their kids to work anymore keep up the good work and they will make something of themselves mine have