Gardening With Kids: Facebook Chat Recap
from Wildlife Promise
A new season is upon us and with the changing weather comes endless possibilities and chances to not only enjoy the nature around us, but also enhance it through our own hands and the hands of our own little helpers. Gardening can be just as good for the soul, body, and mind as any other method of relaxation or meditation; however, many of us don’t know where to begin, or for those with little ones, there’s the ringing question of “how on earth do we get the kids excited about growing their own plants, fruits, or veggies?” With so many questions, it’s easy to get discouraged.
Be Out There held it’s Gardening with Kids—How To for Beginners Facebook Chat just in time. With experts on gardening, such as NWF naturalist, David Mizejewski, Peggy Montgomery from American Beauties Native Plants, and Kelly Senser, an avid NWF gardener, we’ve got all the best tips and tricks to get you and your kids outside and those gardens blooming in no time. Weren’t able to join in the chat? No worries—keep reading for all the best highlights that are sure to help get you and your kids excited about your garden.
Q1: How does one get started with gardening?
This is often the hardest question and probably one of the most discouraging for beginners. There are options upon options of what to plant, when you should start, whether you’re in an area that grows certain plants better than other plants.
Here’s what we learned: The best ways to get started are: first think about what kind of things you want to grow. Do you want to plant fruits and veggies or would you rather plant your favorite flowers? Once you’ve figured that out, start small and test out a few options to see how they do.
Sometimes just getting down and dirty in the garden is the best way to figure out what you want to do. You’re also not limited to planting just one thing. Go a little crazy, section of one area of your garden for veggies or fruits and use the other section to grow some beautiful spring flowers. As Beth said, sometimes it’s just enough to “appreciate the beauty of a garden, and the potential of a little seed.”
Gardening is all about experimenting and seeing what works for you. Try what Tricia suggested, and plant some seeds from fruits and vegetables that you’ve already eaten. A watermelon seed might not grow in your stomach, like my older brother always told me it would when we were kids, but it could grow in your garden! NWF Naturalist, David Mizejewski, agrees that planting them and seeing what happens is the way to go. Be Out There’s new Family Garden Guide is a great resource to have when getting started with your family garden. It even has a check list for you to cut out, so you and the kids can check off each step as you go.
Q2: To beginners, gardening can seem like a lot of work. What’s the best way to manage the time and tasks it takes?
Taking care of a garden does take time and some commitment, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a lot of work.
Monzie suggests gardening plants that are low maintenance. You can go to your local gardening store, such as Lowes or Home Depot and talk to the experts in the gardening section. They can show you around and give you an idea of which flowers or other plants won’t throw a wrench in your everyday routine and busy schedules, but will also allow you to get the satisfaction of having your own garden. Or visit American Beauties Native Plants’ website and search what plants are native to your area. Sometimes starting small with potted plants, then moving them to the backyard is a great way to figure out how much time you have to put towards your gardening projects.
Peggy Montgomery, from American Beauties Native Plants, suggests starting small with the amount of time you put into your projects, too. Once you start putting in fiften to thirty minutes, it’ll become like second nature and soon you’ll be waiting for when you can finally get back outside and into your garden.
Q3. What are some ways to get kids excited about growing things and helping with the garden?
Letting your kids eat right from the garden is great! And don’t worry, the dirt doesn’t hurt! Actually, studies have shown that a little bit of dirt can go a long way with improving their immune systems. Plus, the kids will you’re the cool parent for letting them eat something picked right off the vine that they helped grow. Kids love getting messy, so let them! Making seed balls is another great way to get your kids elbow deep in some dirt while having fun gardening. Check out our Activity Finder for more great gardening activities that your kids will love doing.
Q4: Kids LOVE to watch the birds, butterflies, squirrels, and other visitors a garden can attract? What are some simple features you can add to make your garden an even more magical place for kids?
I think just about every kid that sees a caterpillar, butterfly, or bird poking around in their garden will be in awe. The life cycle, as Kelly Senser, of NWF, said, is really great to watch. Planting things that make great homes for caterpillars to start their cocoon and transform into a beautiful butterfly is a great experience for young kids. It allows them to grow an appreciate for not only the garden and the work that goes into it, but the wildlife that they’re giving food, water, and shelter to. Want to know more about gardening for wildlife or interested in creating a Certified Wildlife Habitat for the local wildlife in your backyard? Learn more about it here.
Gardening doesn’t have to be overwhelming or a huge project. It’s a great way to spend time outdoors with your family and relax while learning. As parents, you become the teachers of life and how things grow from a tiny seed smaller than a fingernail into something big and beautiful, and often times, very tasty. So this spring, take a deep breath and get gardening. You’ll be happy you did.
If you’re in need of more gardening inspiration or some great gardening projects you and the family can do, download our new Family Garden Guide, a step-by-step guide for novice gardeners and their handy helpers, chock full of activities ranging from a sunflower playhouse to making a mud volcano while testing your soil’s pH levels.
Like us on Facebook for more year-round activities to get you and your family outdoors.
National Wildlife Federation’s (NWF) Be Out There is a national movement to give back to American children what they don’t know they’ve lost- their connection to the natural world. With a wealth of activities, events, and resources, Be Out There reconnects families with the great outdoors to raise happy, healthy children with a life-long love of nature.