In the old days, farming was something done by the entire family. If you were old enough to walk you were old enough to get outside and help with the chores. To some people, this may seem a rough way to raise a child, but for the children involved, they’ll develop a closeness with family, learn responsibility and patience, and become productive human beings.
Even if a child grows up to become a city-dweller, he or she will fondly remember the days when the family was out raking the garden or planting seeds. And nothing can match the excitement a child has when he picks his first cucumber or tomato – that he grew.
Include the child in the garden-making decisions. If there’s enough room, let the child have his own small garden. If not, let him have a row or two in your garden space. These rows will be his to maintain. The child might complain about weeding and watering but encourage him to continue what he started. It will pay off in the long run.
Older children might be inclined to participate if they know that gardening spells mall money. More than one kid has purchased new toys, bikes or clothing because of money earned from selling off garden goods.
Consider the size and age of the child before determining how much gardening responsibility to give him or her. A two-year-old may be able to put rocks in a bucket but won’t be able to handle the actual gardening. A seven-year-old can rake and plant, but may have a time keeping up with a large garden. The main thing is to try and make gardening fun, not a dreaded chore.
As the child gets older he can have a larger garden or a couple of extra rows in yours. He should show a willingness to have such – it should not be forced upon him. But, once he has taken on the responsibility, he should be encouraged to continue through to the end. It’s important for the child to understand that someone isn’t going to come in and do the hard work, then give him the fruits of the labor.
Gardening teaches kids many things. If he looks at seed catalogs he will become a better reader who is knowledgeable about plants and gardening. He will also use writing and spelling to mark his rows in the garden. He can also be encouraged to keep a journal about what days he planted, when the first signs of life were seen, and how many tomatoes his plants yielded.
For young gardeners choose vegetables like sweet corn, radishes, green beans, tomatoes, pumpkins, and watermelons. Help your child select vegetables to plant, from a catalog, and try to choose a couple of items from the “huge” selections they now have. Most catalogs sell “gigantic sunflower plants” or “the hugest watermelons” plants. When a child sees these very large vegetables coming from his own garden, he can be, like everyone else, very impressed. This will encourage him even further. After harvesting, let the child have a pumpkin or watermelon party. Sharing his goods with friends is a fun way to show off what he’s learned while sharing with others. Or, have the child pick one of his pumpkins and take it to an elderly neighbor. The child will become caring and considerate in addition to the other things he’ll learn while gardening.