Last summer we had a friend named Wally that we met on a shopping excursion. As soon as we saw him, my daughter had to have him as a friend. He became a great friend who had a listening ear, who constantly smiled with the sun and we helped take care of him like another child. My daughter would run to him almost every afternoon to see how he was doing. She would carefully pick him up to see if he had grown. She gave him drinks when he was thirsty. Her excitement bubbled over when it was time….time to pick the first watermelon.
Yes, this is a story of Wally, the Watermelon. The day we saw him in the garden center, was the day my daughter had to have him. I think it was only because he had a name. Genius on the marketing of this plant, I tell you. Because the watermelon had a name, “he” became more real. He needed real care and tending. He needed water. He needed someone to look after all his “babies”, the little watermelons.
There are lots of ways to get kids excited about starting a family garden. Here’s what I recommend:
- Start talking about gardening together. Look at age-appropriate books or magazines with pictures of gardens. Go online and find pictures of gardens with kids in them. The more our kids see the possibilities, the more opportunities there are to get excited about this new adventure.
- Make a list of foods to grow. Talking about favorite recipes and the ingredients in those recipes can be a start to an imaginative journey. Another place to look is Burpee Home Gardens. Whether it’s looking on the website or flipping through the catalog, there’s something about seeing pictures of beautiful fruits and vegetables that’s enough to get anyone excited about growing their own food.
- Hop in the car and head to the nursery. We think of nurseries for babies in the hospital, why not relate that to baby plants? There is nothing like walking through a warm greenhouse or twirling seed packet racks looking for the perfect addition to the garden. The colors, the smells, the ability to feel the leaves of the plants…all of these things contribute to the excitement of “bringing them home!”
- Design with the kids in mind. It’s easy to get wrapped up in making the garden look so good that no one is even allowed in it – like fine china that never gets used. Plan the garden design so kids are easily able to access the plants to water and weed and eventually harvest. Make walking paths through the garden with stepping-stones that can be removed at the end of the season. Designate different areas as themes, like a pizza garden, a herb garden, a salsa garden, a salad garden…the ideas are as creative as you and your kids are!
- Plant the garden together. Kids can dig holes, make lines for rows, put the plants or seeds in the ground, add garden markers to help remember what was planted and more. May I suggest actually giving those plants and seeds fun names?
What ways have you helped your family get excited about planting a garden? Leave me a note in the comments!