Composting is a fun, green aspect of gardening because kids get to toss “trash” into the garden (egg shells, coffee grounds, fruit and vegetable shavings and rinds, etc.). You can make the entire garden a compost pile in the off season, and if you like you can leave a section for composting year-round.

Consider planting most of the plot as a Family Garden, but save one section for your child’s own garden and make your child responsible for it. If she doesn’t fall in love with gardening, give her a small chore allowance for weed pulling and watering.

Help your child make the garden his own. Decorate plant markers with the kids. Make stepping stones using a kit. We have lattice screen to make a short fence to keep animals out of the garden, and the kids can paint it their own way.

Make sure you have kid-size tools available for your budding gardener. For Small Hands (ForSmallHands.com) offers child-size gardening tools like gloves, shovels, watering cans, kneeling pads, small buckets for weeds, small aprons and totes for tools and more.

Don’t tell the kids they are learning stuff, such as how much will it cost to buy enough tomato plants to fill half of our space? How many feet by how many feet is our garden, and how many different things can I plant in it? Which bugs are bad (Japanese beetles), and which are beneficial? Which plants attract butterflies (hint: wild plants)? Buy some ladybugs and let them loose and see how long they stay to eat up aphids.

Have a garden-to-table pizza party where the toppings come from your own garden. Learn how to can your goodies at FreshPreserving.com so you can save them for another day, and give some as holiday gifts. Sometimes you’ll have enough ripe bounty to share with friends.

Get the kids involved. Take them along to pick out seeds or plants at the garden store or spend an afternoon poring over a seed catalog before making final decisions on what to plant. Their faces will light up when they get to pick green beans for dinner or grab some mint for their lemonade. Soft lamb’s ear, fragrant lavender and basil make a great addition to a fruit and veggie garden.

– Kerrie McLoughlin

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