I recently had that good fortune of attending the Try This West Virginia conference followed the next week by a Jr. Master Gardener class taught locally. Many wonderful ideas were shared with me about how to get kids enthusiastic about gardening and I wanted to share some of those ideas with you in turn. I will jump right in:
Use the book “Good Bug Bad Bug” and turn kids into Pest Detectives! Pest detectives need tools like nets, jars and magnifying glasses to find out more about what might be eating the garden! The book focuses on organic controls for pests and is a great resource complete with pictures.
“If it’s weird, kids will eat it.” So grow chocolate sweet peppers, or white asparagus, or purple potatoes or anything slightly odd and watch kids try something they otherwise might not!
Colored popsicle sticks (available at craft stores) make great markers so that kids know what to do with plants without having to ask. Green might mean water, red could be used to mark weeds that should be pulled, blue might be leave it alone! The possibilities are endless.
Kids can make seed bombs. All you need is cheap toilet paper, a bowl of water and some colored tissue paper. Fold the toilet paper into a few layers and wet it. Smash it down to get the water out until it looks like a toilet paper tortilla, then sprinkle flower seeds on and smush it into a ball. Wet colorful tissue paper and Easter basket grass and drape them on the outside of the ball until it looks beautiful, then set out to dry. If the kids would like to watch the seeds germinate, putting the balls into an egg carton and watering them regularly works well. If not, they can just throw them wherever they like. It’s a great opportunity to teach kids about recycling paper Easter grass rather than buying the plastic variety which cannot be recycled.
Get crafty. Kids love painting rocks or signs, so having them make markers for your garden or for each type of plant is a great way to get them involved!
Have kids sell at your local Farmers Market. This not only teaches them cash handling and math, they learn about weight, packaging, and best of all they make money (some of our little ones have been known to turn right around and spend their earnings on (local) bacon)! We do this regularly here at Linwood:
There are dozens of ways to get kids interested and involved in gardening! What are some of your favorites?
Kids helping at the Farmers Market! Yours truly at Jr. Master Gardener class with our know and show sombreros!
PS – We are having big problems with pests due to a very mild winter and also it has poured several inches in thunderstorms nearly every day for the last week. Our gardens are VERY unhappy but last year this week we had tons of flooding and we still had a good harvest, so we can always hope!