***This article originally appeared in the Spring 2014 issue of Traverse Bay Family Magazine. It has been reprinted with permission.***


I’m not much of a gardener. All you will find in my yard are hostas, vinca and day lilies — all known for their ability to take abuse and/or neglect.

5 Tips for Gardening with Kids


That doesn’t stop me from gardening with my kids each year, though. Here are 5 tips for gardening with your kids, no matter what your ability.

1. Ignore your black thumb.

Even if you kill everything in sight, it’s still important for them to learn that even grown-ups can’t do everything and that failure is okay. Also, if you start seeds indoors, it’s fascinating to observe the seedlings that DO survive.

2. Embrace the space you have.

Even an apartment usually has a small deck or patio. You can grow a tomato in a pot, or one of those upside down hanging tomato planters. If your yard is well-manicured (or a wild animal habitat), set aside a small corner for experimentation.

3. Do what you know.

Everyone knows SOMETHING! Take some potatoes growing eyes already & plant it. Or an onion that’s old & sprouting.

4. Make them responsible.

For little kids, gardening can be a way to promote gentleness and respect for living things. (I.e. don’t pull the plant leaves off.). For older kids, it can be a good responsibility test for the pet they want. If they can’t remember to water to plant…well, they probably won’t remember to clean the turtle’s aquarium, either.

5. Let in the sun.

Most perennials, annuals, fruits and vegetables all require sun. Find a sunny spot. Very few yards have zero sun. If its not sunny all day, use planters you can move.


Instead of feeling pressure with having to grow food to preserve, instead plant to learn! Plant things at different depths, try different amounts of water and sun.┬áSee what happens. As Ms. Frizzle says, “Have fun. Get messy. Make mistakes!”

Are you a gardener or do you have a black thumb like me?

Jen S.

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