Planning a children’s garden can be done any time of year, but right now is a great time to get started. Some of my fondest memories of childhood are of the seed catalogs that would arrive in the mail in the late winter. The snow would still be deep outside, but my sister and I would go through them all, making lists of all the wonderful things we wanted to grow. Of course our paper gardens far exceeded our space, energy and funds. But boy, was it fun to dream.
Planning a garden isn’t just enjoyable, however, it also can be a wonderful learning experience. By giving your child the freedom to design his or her own space, a budget to work with and a few simple tools, you can have a project that builds a lifetime of skills and memories. Over the next few weeks, let’s cover several fun gardening activities. We’d love to hear your suggestions for projects or resources (Links edited 2/2014)
Types of Gardens
First help your child decide on the type of garden he or she would like to plant. Does your child like vegetables? Then a kitchen garden would be perfect. Other types of gardens might be flower gardens or herb gardens. You might want to check our previous posts on theme gardens and theme gardening books for ideas.
Your local Cooperative Extension office is likely to have information about gardening with children. For example, the University of Illinois Extension has a Planning My Garden area for kids with information on how to grow different plants just a click away.
The Colorado State Cooperative Extension has a friendly Gardening with Children website with a section on planning a garden. PBS has information/ideas about gardening with children and KidsGardening.org has a wonderful article about how to plan a garden with children.
If you want to be part of an organization, take a look at the Cooperative Extension's Junior Master Gardener Program. They have curricula for sale and links to gardening books that have been reviewed and recommended.
If you have had gardens in the past and want to expand your learning experiences even more, now is the time to plan garden activities, too. These days there are a number of websites and organizations devoted to gardening with children and often they have free curricula.
For example, Kidsgardening.org has a wonderful Pollinator curriculum. (Apparently this is no longer available - see Creating a pollinator garden instead). While you are there, take a look at the article: Turning Kids On to gardening, as well.
If you want to have the seed catalog experience, here are some links to seed company websites. Most are still willing to send a paper copy of their catalogs, if you want one. These are just the first few that came to mind, no endorsement is implied. Many of these websites also have a wealth of information about gardening. Hope you spend a few minutes and do a little garden dreaming, too.