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Friends, you know we are passionate about gardening with kids—Lara wrote a whole book about the lessons she and her little ones have learned digging, planting, and harvesting together! From growing closer bonds as a family to appreciating nature, reaping the benefits of time outdoors, and growing character traits like patience and perseverance, there are lots of reasons to get the whole family outside.
BUT—gardening with kids can also feel very intimidating! Here are three simple tips from the mamas on Team Cultivate if you'd like to get started—no perfection required! :)
1. Grow something they're excited about. The quickest way to get your kids outside and engaged in the process is to plant something of their choice. Depending on their ages, you might even designate a section of the garden or a single pot just for their picks. Take them to the plant nursery with you or flip through a seed catalog together and follow what catches their eyes. Colorful flowers? A favorite vegetable? Even if you're not convinced their choice will thrive, it can still be a learning experience! Bonus: if they chose the plant, they'll likely be more motivated to check on it, water it, and care for it once the initial excitement has worn off.
2. Be prepared for a mess. There are two halves to this tip.
The first is to embrace the mess. Getting comfortable getting physically messy can help your kids get comfortable getting metaphorically messy later in life, in a good way! Embracing imperfection often starts with mud pies, muddy feet, and digging in the dirt. Find somewhere in their yard they can be messy, choose clothes they can be messy in, and let them go! These are some of the best parts of gardening for kids—let them be enjoyed to the full!
The second is to acknowledge that gardening can (will) be messy with little kids. If this makes you fidgety or anxious (maybe you're picturing your white sofas with muddy handprints on them...), prepare in advance. Buy shoes that can be hosed off (Natives are great for this!), institute a rule about hand washing after gardening, or invest in a good upholstery spray :) And, perhaps most importantly, remind yourself of all the good and the learning that will come with the mess.
3. Don't be afraid to start small. Good things grow little by little, remember? :) Don't be intimidated by moms on Instagram starting trays of plants from seed with fancy grow lights. If that's not your lane, seedlings from a big box store can provide just as wonderful of a learning and bonding experience! For that matter, a few pots on a balcony can be just as fun as a backyard full of raised beds. Start small, keep it simple, and relax and enjoy the process—together.
Gardening mamas, what tips would you add? What plants have been popular with your kids? We'd love to hear from you!