When I was a child, there was a teaching catch phrase called: “Lifelong Learners.” The idea was to instill the love of learning so much within a child’s psyche that he or she would continue to search for information and ideas throughout his or her life. Now, my children are growing up, and it’s a bittersweet time. Two are teenagers and nearly gone, while one will still play in the dirt with me, but soon she will move on too. That’s how we’re made, and I now realize the time is very short for me to have any further influence over them.
I hope I’ve given them enough foundation so that they can soon spread their wings and fly.
I do know this: they know how to care for flowers and vegetables, because, I hear them tell other people (like their teachers) information about soil, flowers, and how to prune. I also know the Diva loves roses. Bear likes vegetables which grow beneath the soil like carrots, potatoes and radishes. ASW, well . . . he likes video games, but he also knows how to care for a garden because I let him dig in mine with his trucks when he was very small.
In this technological age, how do we grow gardeners? I’m not certain, but I think we start when they’re very young. So, I will encourage you with a contest. The nice folks at Botanical Interests seeds have graciously offered their Children’s Garden Seed Collection. It contains Bean Bush ‘Purple Queen’, Sunflower ‘Mammoth’, Russian organic carrot ‘Baby Little Finger’, Pumpkin ‘Little October’, Corn ‘Strawberry Popcorn.’ Tomato ‘Grape Jelly Bean’ Red & Yellow, Pea ‘Super Sugar Snap.’ This is a super, fun collection for a little guy or girl, placing him or her on the path of gardening adventure.
Won’t you take their little hands and come along?
To help, I’m going to throw in a copy of The Family Kitchen Garden: How to Plant, Grow, and Cook Together, by Karen Liebreich, Jutta Wagner and Annette Wendland. Timber Press sent me this book for review, and it’s a great one for jumping off into the vegetable and fruit garden with your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews. If you have no children, use your neighbors’. This book begins with the basics of soil prep, raised beds, and garden tools. Then, with headings like “Do Now” and “Harvest Now,” it gives sound monthly advice. Growing specific vegetables and fruits are also explained. You may find you want to take it with you into the garden, but don’t get it wet. The pages will stick together. I know this from personal experience.
Now, for the rules:
- In a comment, give me some suggestions to entice the next generation into the garden. Be creative and think about what children love best. Hints: dirt, butterflies, scent . . . you get the idea.
- Make sure you give me your name and a valid email address in the comment form. If you win, it’s the only way I can reach you.
- Double Bonus Points (brilliantly lifted again from my friend, Kathy at Cold Climate Gardening): “Tweet this giveaway on Twitter and in a separate comment include the link to your tweet. (Click on the date stamp of the tweet to get a url you can paste in your comment.” That way I can find your tweet.)
- The giveaway ends at midnight on Saturday, February, 20, 2010, at Midnight CST.
- In order to give me time to read all the entries, the winner will be announced on Wednesday, February 24, 2010.
- I will then contact Botanical Interests with the winner’s information. BI will ship the seeds,and I will send the book directly to the winner. This contest is open to persons in the United States and Canada.
The most important part of this contest and gardening with children is to have fun, so let’s do both. I can’t wait to see your ideas.
Jan (ThanksForToday) says
This looks great, Dee;-) I am not going to enter, but wanted to tell you that Joe Lampl contacted me and said he is going to try to get me a rain barrel from Fiskars for the ‘grand prize’ for my Sustainable Living project! Whoo hoo;-) I may extend my deadline in that case. Right now, it’s March 1. Are you going to join in? I hope so!
Lily Kwan says
grow vegetables that they’re interested in
Some suggestions to entice the next generation into the garden are: growing giant vegetables,growing pumpkins to carve, and growing a shade garden.
Betty C says
Betty C says
My children are all grown but it was never a problem to get them or the grandchildren interested gardening. Starting with a fast growing plant is an easy way to get them interested.
Radishes were always fun. Seeing the lettuce grow and harvesting it made salads more interesting.
My daughter is an avid gardener now.
Veronica Garrett says
It doesn’t take much to get a child interested in gardening. Set aside a small area as their own. Let them plan on what they want to grow. Buy them some children’s size tools and offer them encouragement and praise. They will be excited to see the growing plants.
Donna K says
My son likes the dirt and the possibility of finding bugs.
Letting your kids help is always fun for them.. I know mine do. They even get excited about watering the plants 🙂
Michelle H. says
Letting the child help pick fruit, vegatables, flowers for the table, etc. makes them want to keep up a garden. We had a garden with all sorts of produce in our old home and our kids loved it. One of my younger kids just asked me yesterday about starting a garden here.
kathy pease says
kathy pease says
my son loves digging and i learned a good lesson one year when i planted a bunch of perennials.i went in the house to make iced tea and when i came out he had dug up everything i had planted and threw them..i had to search all over the yard to find them and then replanted..i was actually in tears 🙁
now i have him dig the holes for me and i have happy plants that actually stay in the ground..lol
Ed Nemmers says
Giving little ones their own garden space which is their responsibility is a great catalyst!
Let them choose a favorite fruit or vegetable and plant several varieties of it with them.
I grew up watching my parents garden and eating the results, and just assumed everybody did it. My (adult) son now gardens, having watched me do it. Lead by example, that’s what I think best. If YOU are interested in it, they will be, too.
Patricia Hill says
I found that to get my kids interested in gardening is to let them pick what to plant. Also, make sure you plant something that will grow quickly , like radish, so kids can see them and not lose interest when it takes time to grow.
carol lewis says
carol lewis says
For double I get two entries? To follow and to Tweet?
carol lewis says
Hide Easter eggs in the garden. This will excite them and let them pcik flowers to arrange, too.
We have an herb garden and we allow our little one to pick and eat what herbs she likes such as chives, oregano, basil. She sees us plant them and then says “I want to do it!” She loves plants and flowers because she sees us gardening from an early age.
Lori C. says
Renee G says
Soil, seeds, and plants are all fine to entice kids. But, my favorite way to get my boys in the garden is with bugs. Whether it is capturing “bad bugs” like grasshoppers, adding good bugs like ladybugs to the garden, or just watching/counting butterflies. It was bugs that caught my boys attention.
Lori C. says
When my son was young, I want to garden but really didn’t know how. We’re still learning. One of our most fun and successful gardening adventures was growing a sunflower fort. We planted the giant beauties in a rectangular shape leaving space for an entrance. Some of our fort walls were a little more fortified than others, but it was still a lot of fun. We are looking forward to spring when we can get out again and play in the dirt. That’s the most fun thing – just getting our hands dirty.
To get my kids interested I used a few simple words… Want to grow a CHRISTMAS tree? Of course they did… We then explained that they are really Fir trees and yada yada… It probably also helped that every year we plant a seedling at the forest line and so they kids see them grow. It’s all about the circle of life and keeping balance..
Kim H. says
We have multiple gardens, but I think what inspires my daughter the most (and the best) is the immediacy of the herb garden.
The catnip has a real and quick effect on our cat. The Basil and Oregano is dearly loved by our bunny.
She loves cherry tomatoes, so when we ask her to come out and help pick . . . well, we don’t have to ask her twice. She loves the idea of cooking with veggies that come out of our garden.
When I was small, I was given a copy of The Victory Garden Kids’ Book. I still have it, though it’s a little ragged. I’m working on organizing a learning garden for kids and that book is the first thing that I thought of when I went to gather materials. It made me feel like I was a “real” gardener. I’ve recently found the book Sunflower Houses and wish that I’d had it growing up as well. The idea of a sunflower house makes me excited, so I can’t wait to see what it does for the kids.
We also did the old green bean in a Dixie cup project at school–do they still do that? They should. It was one of my favorite projects ever. Of course, we hatched chicks, too. I doubt that they do that now.
Overall, I would say plant morning glories and moonflowers, cherry tomatoes and strawberries, and you’ll get pretty much any kid interested. Oh, and give them a magnifying glass! There are so many tiny things to spy on in the garden.
Mary S says
I Tweeted (maxfate) Thanks!
Mary S says
My parents had me in,and a part of the gardening from the start,So that it has always been a part of life,and fun. I’ve done this with my kids also. At first just digging,watering,watching for the the strawberries to turn red for eating! Each having their small sets of tools, and gloves. Making gardening an enjoyable part of the daily routine,that they want to invest in. We grow some things just for fun,like Sunflower Tepees.Large pumpkins are a big hit.So are gourd mixes,seeing the varied,tiny gourds appear behind the flower,and watching it progress.Now they each have a little plot, where they choose what to plant,and tend it themselves. I’m sure gardening will be a lifelong love for them,as it’s been for me!
Let them pick what to plant. If they enjoy the harvest, they are more enthusiastic. Thanks.
Kids love pizza. Telling them that they can “grow their own pizza toppings” can be a great introduction to gardening, especially since tomatoes, peppers and herbs are not too difficult to grow. Of course you have to add the dough and cheese, but there are all sorts of vegetables kids will try if they a) have grown them on their own and b) they get to put them on a pizza!
Have them help you with the planning and shopping of the products.
Heather McDonough says
My son loves to help plant things and watch them grow. He is fascinated by the fact that we can grow our own food to eat instead of having to buy it at the store. Plus he loves to get his hands dirty!
One of my favorite things about vegetable gardening is being able to share because you have so much. Sharing with grandparents was fun, but my favorite person to share with ever was my dog. He was a fine beagle named Traver Sherman Woowoo and he loved fresh vegetables. I remember my first tomato garden. I grew three different kinds of tomatoes and sometimes I would pick three and cut each one in half and share the still warm tomatoes with Traver. We also liked to shared carrots, Traver was always so happy and eager as I picked them and washed them off. He was very silly and would steal green tomatoes (he never fried them). It was easy te tell that he was a tomato thief by his tomato breath and green, leaf stained face. Traver is no longer with me nor are my grandparents, still it is great to be able to share, to have those tomatoes I grew be on our burgers and such. And one more thing about a garden that I learned was the meaning of the word “abundance.” It is wonderful to have so much that you just have to share. I used to say to Traver, “Sharing is caring and caring is love.” Yes, I’m kind of silly but I like it that way.
Dee, I don’t see a date stamp on my tweet. Actually I retweeted your earlier tweet about the contest. So check your retweet list. (I feel like I have a speech impediment with all of those tweet words!)
I really don’t know how to entice the next generation into gardening although it’s something I have given some thought to. Sometimes I think you’re just born loving gardening (my parents were definitely NOT gardeners). I think more than anything that you need to awaken a sense of interest and investigation into natural phenomena within children. If they are curious about things, like how a bean seed turns into a plant, they may pursue it further. Also, your children have probably seen how much pleasure gardening gives you so they probably consider gardening a good thing, not something they should avoid. So role models are very important.
I would love to win the seeds and books for my two young nieces. They tend to think the things their aunt likes are cool, so far. 🙂 There’s that role model idea again.
I’ll give this a tweet if I can figure out the date stamp thingie.
Jennifer M says
My daughter loves hunting out worms and gently putting them into the planters that “need them.”
Cynthia C says
Kids love to grow things they can eat right out of the garden. Good choices are sugar snap peas, carrots, tomatoes and mint.
Since I was bitten by the gardening bug later in life, I didn’t pass on any gardening knowledge to my children. But I’ve been trying to make up for it with my grandkids. Granddaughter #2 loves flowers and is always ready to help me plant some each spring, and Grandson #2 is my other garden helper; he loves the “chopper,” a little handtool for weeding or digging holes for planting. I think the best tip for encouraging children is the same as teaching them anything–encourage what they enjoy doing, and don’t be critical of how they plant something. We also enjoy going into the garden later to see how their efforts turned out and to check for caterpillars. The butterflies and insects in the garden are almost as interesting to them as the flowers. They both enjoy coming to Grandma’s house, and I hope the time spent gardening with me will be something they will take with them the rest of their lives.
Our veggie garden seems to grow bigger each year! We have actually started a second “kids’ garden” where the kids can plant, dig, water and pick to their hearts content.
With 4 budding gardeners ages 4-10 under my roof, I’ve got some ideas. Don’t know if they’ll work…they may choose to aim their rebellion right at my passion. Who knows. But here’s what I’m trying.
1. Embrace the dirt. I love dirty fingers and toes. I try to love theirs too.
2. Let them eat the harvest while it’s warm. Nothing better than a carrot pulled from the dirt, hosed off, and eaten right in the garden.
3. Give them ownership. My 10 year old is entering the dreaded state of perpetual disgust typical of adolescents. But she’s still excited to pick out herbs for “her” herb garden. Picking the plants is pretty much all she does, but it’s something.
4. Love bugs. Kids do.
5. Let them do the work they want. I don’t want them to feel the same way about deadheading a rose as they do about cleaning their room. It’s my hobby, not theirs. So I let them work when they want. No gardening chores around here.
Great idea! Can’t wait to win those seeds. Kelly
Karen Pochodowicz says
I think the way to get them into it is to not just make them do it as chores. Don’t make them help only on weed pulling day. Have them help you cut flowers for the house and arrange them. Have them help you plant stuff and play in the dirt while you do it.
This sounds like a great contest Ms. Dee, and I’m sure lots of fun will ensue. I have two teens who’ve not taken a hankerin to gardenin as much as I’d have liked them to. They might or might not have their own gardens once they leave mine, and I’m okay if they don’t. But I have no doubt they’ll always know that gardening is a lifestyle, not a hobby. This will ensure that they keep a houseplant or two, and a perennial bed or container or three when they’re out on their own.
Whether young-uns garden or not, if they see it’s the lifestyle of their moms and dads, they’ll take it inside and it’ll come out in some shape or fashion that makes it their lifestyle too.
Ramble on Rose says
My son loves the worms, bugs and creepy crawlers in the garden. When I’m planting, he takes his shovel and goes on a “worm hunt.” The butterflies and dragonflies in the garden are also very exciting for a toddler. I’m finding it’s the sensory engagement that children love. Whether it’s searching for and finding those worms, or helping to pile dirt around a newly planted flower, or pulling out a weed, just being involved in the garden is the best way to get kids interested.
Jackie DiGiovanni says
My son never knew a time or a place where we didn’t have a garden. We visited gardens when we traveled. We both learned from PBS and the Victory Garden starting in the 80s. He believed it was a normal part of life to have growing things where you lived. We even had pots of cherry tomatoes growing on a balcony in Boston. He surprised me when he took a botany class in college. Then he started a project in vermiculture. He grew pots of herbs on window sills at various apartments as he finished college and his masters. He planted small border gardens wherever he rented a room (usually with permission).
He is now married with a daughter. They have a city house in DC with a very small yard. It is filled with shrubs, vines, and perennials in a layout he designed. There are herbs that they use when cooking. The windows are filled with potted plants. She did say no to the worms.
You teach children about gardening by inviting them to work with you, by asking them questions, by letting them make decisions, by sharing. Children learn what they see and hear. Let them hear you singing while you both plant, weed, and water your gardens.
DeeAnn S says
I think letting kids know it’s OK to get dirty is the first place to start. Have them pick flower/veggie seeds they like, then first plant some yourself then let them have a go at it. When it comes time to water and weed, show them how to do it in your planted area then they can do their own plot. And reaping the crop of a well kept garden is a reward in itself. Watching them pick either the flowers or veggies is a delight!
I taught Jr. Master Gardening classes for many years and even now I teach gardening workshops for the Girl Scouts. Some of the things I learned about gardening with children:
Kids like a quick return – start them off with fast producing veggies like radishes.
Kids like weird looking plants – try having them grow cockscomb that look like brains, or white pumpkins.
Kids like really big plants or really tiny plants – mammoth sunflowers or dwarf varieties.
Kids like having a theme – have them spell out their name in flowers or grow plants they found listed in a Harry Potter book.
No one likes to weed, kids included. Try to make it a game – see who can weed to the end of the row first.
Give them their own little plot of land for their own garden – but don’t expect it to be as tidy as yours. Be okay with that.
Read them great gardening books: Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney; Tops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens; The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
I could keep going but this is getting too long as it is.
Shari D says
I found that when my son was little it was our time together and the he loved it when he got to eat what he grew. I made him feel that it was all his doing that we could eat those great carrots.
I would entice them by giving them each thier own little area. I would then take a piece of narrow unpainted trim and cut it into 2 ft pieces that they can each paint to symbolize thier areas and put in thier areas to mark thier space.
I have been educating my son about the shaky economic situation our country is in and teaching him how we should prepare for the worst but expect the best and, of course trust in God. His answer to this is to start a vegetable garden so that we will have food on hand, should worse come to worse. I thought that was a creative solution on his part! He is getting ready to grow his first small vegetable garden in our first back yard, this year in our new house.
Theresa Shafer says
Just saw that you have links to Gluten-free sites. Thank you, each one helps me to learn how to be safe. One year since diagnosed with Celiac. What a lesson this still is on how to make sure my food is not cross-contaminated. It is amazing how many companies make food in processing plants that also handle gluten And how many different names gluten goes under. I have a positive attitude on searching and laughing when I find one more cross-contaminated food.
Slowly I am learning that I must relearn – remember what I learned at my grandma’s knee on baking.
Thank you for hosting.
May this cold kill all the bugs, so this harvest will be plentiful. (the fun is finding the silver lining.)
Hi Theresa, it truly is a learning process to go gluten free, and I wish you the best in your endeavor. I’ve been GF/CF for three or four years now, and I feel much better. It’s a great way to live. I’m glad my links helped.~~Dee
Theresa Shafer says
Each person is unique and the bait to learning must be multi-pronged. Computer games are a way to introduce gardening. This way is fast and success is almost guaranteed. Success makes people feel good and gives new growers confidence to try the real plants.
Seeing details of seeds + water + glass jar = growing sprouts and then eating them. While the same seeds can be put into small indoor starter pots to be transferred into the earth when seasonally safe. And, creating a small terrarium with lid is another way to see plants growing, easy to do and successfully so many times.
Chia plants are very fun to do and so fun to watch. Success again is so easy.
Aerogardens are another easy way to achieve success. You can see the plants up top and peep at the roots below. The machine tells you when water is low; when to add fertilizer, and it turns the grow lights on and off.
Sometimes it is the not knowing, the unfamiliar, that halts learning, so have an age appropriate book to show and read together. You can start plants from seeds of plants you eat. When they look like a small plant, you and your student can eat the fruit or vegetable while looking at the plant and browsing the age appropriate book. You can even have edible seeds, sprouts, roots,
Maybe it is time to make mud pies while planting new plants. Child can dig in the mud, add water, create lots of mud pies, then the two of you can plant in the mud.
The most important is you enjoying the gardening, the plants, the experiments. You wanting to share. You putting aside a small plot for them to grow plants and the two of you can tend to them. You will tend those plants when they can not, even replacing dead plants.
Seeds can be started in glass with dirt BUT with the seed up against the glass so all can see the roots.
Starting a large avocado seed with toothpicks and a bowl of water inside a dark cabinet can show the many stages of growing and finally a small tree. Potatoes with eyes can be started in a bowl, so again all can see the roots and see the small green plant sprout.
It does not matter the season. All plants can begun inside.
On the flip side destroying is fun, also. The pulling / digging out of weeds. The yard hunt to find what is not grass. The confirmation of, yup – weed, then the destroy by pull or dig or both. You can learn how deep and spread out roots can become. Add water to make it easier to pull out or find ALL the root pieces as well as the fun of getting dirty. This game makes it easier to decide what is a weed in a young garden.
Bring each sense into the game of learning. Eat the fruit. Smell the rich earth. Feel the grain of the earth. See the growth. Know you are having fun. When you are having fun, learning just happens. It just is part of the game.
Remember to plant flowers, also, so you can feed the soul as well as the body.
TESL then the numbers not words for two, eight, three with yahoo.
Kelly Bundy says
Last year we let our 4 year old grandson help us a lot in our veggie garden. He helped plant many of the seeds. He was a big help to his Pawpaw when it came time to harvest the corn. That kid loves corn too! And he knows right where it came from. He would be so thrilled to have his own little garden at his home. Put our name in the hat. This is such a great idea! Our future generations need to know how to survive!
To get my kids interested in garden (it really didn’t take much) I picked plants that kids would like. cherry tomatoes perfect for popping in the mouth. Sugar snap peas were great right for the garden. If we grew it the kids liked it. I also let them plant their own area with easy to plant/sprinkle seeds.
Lisa at Greenbow says
I don’t know how you raise gardeners. My daughter does some gardening and has indoor plants. My son loves to be outside and doesn’t mind mowing. Both were good helpers in the garden when they were at home. So you never know. I think your seed giveaway is a good thing for someone with youngsters. Happy Valentines Day!
I sold the place in 2005, but my daughter grew up in an underground house on an organic CSA farm. She cheerfully told anyone that would listen that she was “slave labor on the family farm”. Now she has her own backyard homestead in the city of Austin, TX and is expecting a baby boy in April. If I win, the seeds go to him 🙂
Here’s our old place…
Here’s my daughter now….
Cindy Merrill says
For restless teenagers, take them to a nearby community garden: Being “Green” is IN. Teens respond well to positive feedback- ( Mothers, say something mushy like “My baby is growing up”- your kid will pretend to die of embarassment, “” Aw Mom…….
But they’ll appreciate it.)
susan varney says
to encourage the new generations i think we could make different designs mverno@roadrunner.,com
Children enjoy gardening if they get to do it in ways that come naturally. That means dirty hands and
not being really caring if they plant too many seeds at a time. They want to have fun with gardening and they should.
Dana H says
I think children are most attracted to a very mixed garden, rather than one with large blocks or rows of all one crop. It’s a nice way to use a corner of the garden, mixing herbs, beneficial or edible flowers along with the vegetables. The variety makes it more interesting, as well as drawing in some other kid-friendly things, like birds and butterflies.
Last year I was able to have my 2 sons (ages 2 and 4) help me harvest the things in our garden that were ripe each week. I think children naturally love to pick things, be it flowers, vegetables, or scabs (sorry, I do have little boys). So picking the harvest in our garden was really satisfying for my little guys, because Mom rarely had to say, “Don’t pick that!” and also because they loved to see how we could eat it. Being able to dig in the dirt and find worms was pretty entertaining as well.
I was amazed at how fascinated my 4 year old was with the entire process from start to finish: planting seeds, watering, watching them sprout, measuring them every few days, putting them in the garden, watering, watching them grow even bigger and then seeing them produce the fruits (or vegetables) of our labors! It was such an enriching activity for both my boys and myself. They loved surprising Daddy each week with our produce, “Look Dad, we grew these in our garden ourselves!” And Daddy does love it when we manage to live within our budget, especially when it’s tasty!
Jill L says
We’ve tried starting by growing fairy gardens this winter filled with grass and “magic” beans. The kids have really enjoyed watching their beans growing tall. When it was time to plant new ones, they were amazed by the kind of roots that had formed. Now we will take it to the next level and start planning an outdoor garden. They are getting excited about it.
Monica the Garden Faerie says
Since the youngest “children” in my life are 24 and 21, I can’t help you. However, I wanted to say that the department at the community college through which I teach adult enrichment gardening classes is in fact called Lifelong Learning! 🙂
Pepper Austin says
I hope that is the tweet link that you need.
I think this is a wonderful contest. I know I entice my kids to the garden with sentimentalism (i think that is a word). We live in town but our garden is 12 miles out in the country on my grandparents farm. They no longer live there, but we still go out there quite often. I’m always talking about and showing them how my grandparents gardened. About how big Papo’s tomato plants would get, when they planted potatos and when they harvested. We love to go out there because it reminds us of them. We grow cabbage for Mamo, Okra for Nanny, tomatoes for everyone. Then of course the kids get to plant what they want like carrots & watermelon. They love the surpise of seeing sprouts jumping up out of the ground!
Nancy France says
When I taught prekinder, I would teach plant parts by giving the children vegetables that were the different parts of the plants. Plant stems, roots, leaves, fruit and seeds!
For very young children, don’t start by planting, start with the harvest. They need to see what will happen, or they’ll not be able to envision the end result.