Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Gardening with Kids

Beep! Beep! Machines at Work

I'm ambivalent about cars. I appreciate the mobility, but don't like all the pavement and pollution. Trucks, construction equipment and other diesel-powered machines are especially dirty. But these days, drive around with me and you're likely to hear, "There's a Backhoe!" and "look at that excavator. Wow! That's a big one." Yes, I have a son. 

He likes the garden. But nothing compares to his passion for trucks. So I've combined our interests with these dump truck activities:
  • Transporting potting soil/compost around the garden. In the picture above, he's spreading a thin layer of dirt on top of some lettuce seeds, dropped around a newly transplanted tomato seedling.
  • Mommy pulls weeds. He drives them to the compost bin. "The bugs eat them and make soil for our garden," he reminds me. 
  • Moving rocks and pebbles. Okay, this doesn't need to be done, but it keeps him busy while I work.
My son's little watering can is perfect for wetting seedlings. I also use his tiny trowels for transplanting. You can get kiddie gardening kits at toy stores and garden shops. I like our Pottery Barn set because the trowels and rake are more sturdy--they're metal and wood instead of plastic. The kit also included a spray bottle, which is a big hit.

Other garden activities for little kids
  • Plant seeds. Pumpkins and melons are fun and easy
  • Patrol garden, watch things growing
  • Pick fruits and vegetables
  • Pull weeds---maybe (If you think your kid can limit her grip to weeds and not pull plants you want to keep.) 
  • Observe butterflies, bees, and other bugs 
  • To support wildlife, garden with native plants
  • Pick flowers (Be sure to plant some things you won't mind losing to your critter. I point my son at wildflowers that reseed vigorously, such as California poppy.)
  • Buy and release store-bought lady bugs
  • Grow and release painted lady butterflies
  • Hang a bird feeder
  • Maintain a bird bath
  • Compost with worms. Your kid won't need a dog or a bunny; he'll have hundreds of pets. Stay tuned for a post on our Can 'O Worms.
Do you have a favorite gardening project for kids? Please share it.



  1. There has been a lot of construction outside my granddaughter's house for months, and I've had loads of opportunities to indulge, vicariously of course, my passion for big tools and trucks. We especially enjoyed watching the (relatively) tiny footprint backhoe on a 360 swivel base.

    Worm composting is almost always a big hit with kids. They love to get their hands into the rich compost and find the worms. The compost tea is fun for them to sprinkle on the garden, too.

  2. HI! Love the post. Kids can learn SO MUCH from gardening. Even "just the food" part is valuable, but it can mean so much more. A feeling of connection to the EARTH is HUGE!

    Erika sent us a great story about teaching her children to value LEARNING through gardening. Great video, check it out here:

    Hope you like it!


  3. At my daughter's preschool, they put green bean seeds in a ziplock back with a folded piece of moist paper towel. They put a staple in the middle of the bag and the seed sits on top of it. day by day they watch the sprout and roots grow. Amazing! At home we took out the little sprouts from the bags and planted them in pots, and they are still growing! (DOes anyone know, will the plants do okay in pots)


Please share your thoughts