Digging in the Dirt: Gardening with Kids
Spring has sprung! Bring the beauty and the bounty of the season home and get your hands dirty by starting a garden with your kids. Grow vegetables for a yard-to-table eating experience or flowers to make your yard more inviting. Make gardening a springtime family affair with these ideas and activities.
Know When and What to Plant
Don’t know when to start? The danger of frost needs to be over before planting, but Georgia’s weather can be unpredictable! The experts at “The Old Farmer’s Almanac” have a planting database where you can enter your zip code, and they’ll provide information on when to sow indoors, transplant and seed outdoors. Find information at almanac.com/gardening/planting-calendar. For more help, you can also reach out to your local county extension service; they are happy to share their advice.
Plants that germinate and grow quickly are the best for keeping kids’ interest. Try peas, pole beans, sunflowers, radishes, corn, morning glories, cucumbers, pumpkins, squash or nasturtium. You can also ask them what they’d like to plant, particularly if they like fruits and veggies, or give them a few options to choose from.
Keep the area small. You don’t want it to feel like a chore; you want it to be fun. Let them decorate their own areas with painted rocks or labels they create themselves. Square Foot Gardening is a small-space and efficient way to grow vegetables; find more information at squarefootgardening.org.
Make the space a creative hideaway! Find instructions for building a green bean teepee and a sunflower house on almanac.com.
Bring Creatures to Your Yard
Make your yard more inviting to birds, hummingbirds and butterflies with additions to your garden.
Attract blue jays, cardinals and chickadees to your yard with a bird feeder or birdbath. You can build an easy bird feeder using a pinecone, peanut butter, bird seed and twine. Check out Home Depot’s website for a kid’s project and instructions on how to build a bird feeder on your window. Follow Pike Nurseries’ idea for creating and hanging a colorful birdbath in your yard.
For a fun craft and to see one of nature’s pollinators at work, create a hummingbird feeder with a plastic bottle, cotton ball, rubber bands, flowers, yarn, water and sugar. Find full instructions at pbs.org.
According to The National Wildlife Federation, butterflies are attracted to red, yellow, orange, pink and purple blossoms that are flat-topped or clustered and have short flower tubes. Some native flowers that fit the bill in Georgia are milkweed, sunflowers, persimmon, phlox and coneflowers. You can also make it easy with Insect Lore’s Butterfly Garden; available at insectlore.com for $29.99.
Flutter with Fairies
We could all do with a little magic! Add some whimsy to your garden with cute fairies, pixies, elves, gnomes and more from fairyhomesandgardens.com.
Craft a cute fairy house on a terra cotta pot; find full instructions at lifecreativelyorganized.com.
Make the Most of Small Spaces
If you don’t live in a place where you can plant in your yard, your kids don’t have to miss out on the experience of gardening. Patios and balconies are places for potted gardens; depending on the amount of sun you get, try these plants: pansies, herbs, succulents, ferns or marigolds.
Beetle & Bee Kids Garden Hand Tools: This set includes a trowel, rake and shovel specifically designed for kids and is recommended for ages 5 and older.
Grow With Me Adjustable Garden Tool Set and Child’s Wheelbarrow Set: Kids will have fun getting their hands dirty with this set featuring a wheelbarrow, shovel, hoe, leaf rake and soil rake.
Kids Gardening Tools: The Storybook Kids Explorers Club offers a cute set featuring a “how-to” board book to spark interest in gardening, as well as a bag, shovel, rake, trowel, gloves, garden stakes and a watering can.
Natures Good Guys Live Ladybugs: Learn all about ladybugs and how they help plants thrive.
Faber-Castell’s Creativity for Kids: The GROW line is a collection of crafts for kids to grow little gardens of their own with creative twists. Plant a woodland forest, magical land and more.
Miracle Gro: Their collection for kids that encourage planting, painting, viewing roots or playing with dinosaurs.
The Simplay3 Seed to Sprout Raised Kids Patio Garden: Help little ones learn about gardening by growing flowers, fruits or vegetables in a kid-friendly container. It includes an eight-piece garden tools accessory set that is perfect for a child’s hands.
Snack on It
Take a break from your hard work to enjoy a themed snack time.
Serve dirt pudding, ants on a log or rainbow vegetable and fruit kabobs. You can also serve fruits and veggies in a creative way by cutting them up and serving them to resemble flowers.
Use what you’ve grown! Plant a themed garden that will allow you to make foods using what you planted. Plant the herbs and veggies needed for salsa or pizza, then enjoy a themed dinner night and enjoy the fruits (pun intended) of your labor.
Have a garden party with your neighbors and friends. Show off your beautiful blooms, and create recipes using the fruits and veggies grown in your yard. Serve flower-shaped cookies or cupcakes. Spread the love of gardening by sending everyone home with seed packets or seed papers; check out botanicalpaperworks.com for seed paper, seed paper confetti and seed bombs.
Visit a Garden
Metro Atlanta has so many green spaces that bloom beautifully during the season and make a fun family field trip.
Serenbe’s gardens include a pollinator garden, an herb garden and a medicinal garden. On Saturdays, you can also tour Serenbe Farms, a certified organic farm with more than 300 varieties of vegetables, herbs, flowers and fruits.
The Atlanta History Center has multiple grounds and gardens for exploring animals, plants and flowers. The Smith Farm represents the 1860s era with historic varieties of crops, an enslaved people’s garden, a kitchen garden, heirloom flowers, sheep, goats, chickens and turkeys. Other gardens include native plants, Asian plant collections, waterfalls and more.
Presented by the North Fulton Master Gardeners, Little Diggers is a Family Gardening Series at the Sandy Springs Farmers Market. The program is held every third Saturday of the month.
Explore the Wylde Center’s public greenspaces for woodland paths, meadows, flower gardens, a butterfly garden and more.
The Lou Glenn Children’s Garden at the Atlanta Botanical Garden features a charming Flower Bridge, a vegetable garden demonstrating the various stages of edibility, colorful flowers and a collection of honeybees.
The State Botanical Garden of Georgia’s Alice H. Richards Children’s Garden is a learning environment with themed gardens, edible landscapes, hands-on garden plots and interpretive elements.
Check out your local farmers market for locally grown produce and to support community agriculture.
Read About It
Check out these gardening books for more ideas:
“Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots: Gardening Together with Children” features 12 easy-to-implement ideas for themed gardens, activities, crafts and more.
Eric Carle’s “The Tiny Seed” comes with seeded paper to help you grow your own flowers.
For little ones who can’t manage heavy digging, check out “The No-Dig Children’s Gardening Book” for step-by-step processes of gardening projects.