Brilliant Ideas for Gardening With Kids, from the Balcony to the Backyard
Raady to teach little ones where real food comes from, share a passion for the earth, and get them much-needed time in dirt? Grab your spade, hoe and little gloves and get to work in the garden! Don't have the space? A windowsill will do. Gardening (anywhere) is a way to bond, get some sunshine and boost your mood in these uncertain times. Now get your green thumb on with these planting tricks and treats no matter what your living space!
Small Space Gardening
Even if you have no outdoor space or just a small balcony, you can plant herbs in teeny tiny pots inside or out. Get creative with your small containers, like toy trucks, colorful teacups, painted pots or small Mason jars. Terrariums are also a fun way to create indoor gardening worlds for kids. Let them add animal figurines and little trinkets for them to use their imagination.
Now grab a few herb seeds for basil, rosemary, mint, parsley, lavender, whatever you like to add to your cooking (catnip is also fun for kids with kitties), a small bag of soil and let little ones go to town getting their hands dirty, the healthy way. Check in with the plants every week to water (some herbs like dill and mint need more frequent watering) and observe any growth.
Gardening in general takes some patience, something kids are not great at. For the in-between times, give them a gardening journal to draw pictures of their experience or write (if they're beyond the ABCs) notes on the plant's progress.
When it's time to harvest, let kids pull off the leaves and smell their amazing scents. Then get cooking! Add them in veggie recipes for kids, clean-eating dinner recipes, and healthy soups so kids can really see the fruits of their labor!
Balcony or Deck Gardening
Many veggies will grow in outdoor containers. Lettuces (kale, arugula, spinach), peas, potatoes, and squash don't need a lot of space. It's easier to start with transplants from a garden center but beans and veggies like carrots, radishes and spinach can grow straight from seed to pot. Choose your faves and create a space for you and the kids to tend to it.
Look for containers that are about 10 inches wide and 12 inches deep (about 20 inches wide for vining plants like tomatoes, to accommodate a wire cage). In general, 5-gallon buckets are great. To figure out how much potting soil you need, think 3 pints of soil per 6-inch pot, 3 1/2 gallons of mix per 12-inch pot and 6 1/2 gallons of mix per 20-inch pot.
We love the idea of a little wheelbarrow garden for kids. Plant a row of flowers, like begonias, pansies, marigolds and zinnia, for a rainbow of colors. If they're beyond the learning-colors stage, teach them the color in another language! Rojo, azul, verde...
If you're blessed with a backyard, you can look into raised beds for a larger veggie garden (here's a great one for kids) or planting straight in the ground if your soil is healthy. Here's Brit's complete guide to creating an edible garden.
Butterfly gardens are a kid fave too and can attract sweet little hummingbirds. Kids can learn about the stage of the butterfly (LOVE!). You just need a space that has at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight and is sheltered from the wind. Plant near shrubs or small trees where they can attach their chrysalis. Add native plants that flower in your area and leafy "host" plants to provide nibbles for the caterpillars. Add a few flat rocks for the butterflies to sunbathe (this is where kids can have some fun) and a small birdbath — a shallow dish or the bottom of a terra cotta planter will do.
Also, if you have the space, this garden fort is amazing!
Share your spring gardening pics with us @BritandCo!
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Theresa Gonzalez is a content creator based in San Francisco and the author of Sunday Sews. She's a lover of all things design and spends most of her days momming her little one Matilda.