Making a Children's Garden

One thing that is important to me is that our children learn to appreciate gardening and nature. All kids should learn at some point how to plant a seed, how that seed becomes a plant, and what it takes for that seed to grow. Learning those three ideas will instill in the child an appreciation for where our food supply comes from, how people historically gardened and why, and just might get them hooked on a very worthwhile hobby or profession: horticulture!

What is the best way to foster this appreciation? By letting them get their hands dirty while making gardens.

It can be as simple as a few seeds in a pot or as elaborate as you can dream. You could even do what we did last Saturday morning and find a spot in the yard to drop in a children's garden. It doesn't take much effort to make something for the kids to enjoy, especially when the child is only two years old.

We went out into the backyard and found a spot that wasn't growing any grass and just had weeds in it. It was caused by some moles that had passed through our yard and were no longer occupying the spot. It's too late in the season to worry with planting grass there so it made the perfect location to plant a few seeds for the younger generation.

I skimmed the ground clear of all plant material. Thanks to the moles the dirt was very easy to work. The weeds on top skimmed off leaving a nice loose soil underneath. Of course my daughter had her shovel out and got into the event quite eagerly.

Once the surface was skimmed I went around the 3' x 5' bed and churned up the soil to the depth of my shovel head. This was surprisingly easy, we have some good dirt back there with very little clay.

Then we had to decide what to plant. When picking seeds for kids to plant it is a good idea to think of their hands and how well they can handle the seeds. The larger seeds can be easier to handle but you can also sprinkle the smaller seeds. It just depends on how dexterous your child is. Sunflower seeds are perfect due to their size. If we were planting vegetables, watermelon and beans would have been great choices for little hands to handle (we planted both of these plants in the vegetable garden several weeks ago). Zinnias are great for sprinkling as are many other types of seeds. We used mostly the seed I collected in the fall since we have a bunch of it. Coneflowers, coreopsis, zinnia, rudbeckia and sunflowers were all planted in her garden. The zinnias and sunflowers are on their way up. The others may never grow or may not show up until next year but that won't matter since the zinnias and sunflowers are sure things for this season. At her age she won't realize that some of the seeds didn't sprout, she'll just see the colorful flowers that did.

After planting seeds we had to water the garden. She and I both had our own watering cans for the job. Her garden was ready all that was left to do now was wait and watch it grow!

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