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    Gardening with grandkids

    starting seedsOver the weekend, I finally got around to starting some seeds for later filling a few patio containers. In Colorado, nothing should go in the ground before Mother's Day, so I'm hoping the timing will be just right. It's the first time I've tried starting seeds, and I'm crossing my fingers my zinnia, snapdragon and marigold seeds will have grown to a decent size by the time there's no longer a chance of snow, ice or frost.

    As I poked the seeds down into the egg cartons filled with soil, I wished I had a local grandchild or two to help out. When my daughters were little, they helped me plant things now and then. Nothing major — meaning, no bountiful harvest — ever came of it, just a sunflower or marigolds here and there, as Colorado's not the greatest climate for growing things. Still, there’s something about getting one’s hands dirty and appreciating what comes (or might come) from the earth to counteract all the electronic and artificial stimulation kids get on a daily basis.

    For grandmas who are more fortunate than I — those who can enjoy a little digging and growing with the grands — below are some tips to ensure your grandchild’s curiosity with the natural world grows right along with the goodies you plant together.

    child gardener

    • Designate one part of your yard or garden — or even one special container garden, if you’re short on space — then together peruse gardening catalogs and websites for ideas of what they could include in the space.

    • Keep in mind this one particular space is primarily for the grandchild, so guide the process but allow him or her to make plenty of the selections and decisions.

    • Plant using a variety of methods. Seeds are always fun to plant and see sprout, while plantings already started provide some instant gratification while they wait.

    • Include plenty of goodies to eat along with the pretty and colorful marigolds, sunflowers and such. Beans are one of the easier edibles to grow. Consider cucumbers, zucchini, pumpkins, too. And don’t forget herbs such as basil and oregano, which can be sprinkled on homemade (or frozen) pizza.

    • Forego chemicals on a garden children will be digging into. Either on your own or together with older grandkids, research organic ways to ward off bugs and disease. Consider options for repelling wildlife, too, including squirrels, deer, even cats and dogs.

    • Include your grandchild in the work (weeding, watering) involved in gardening as well as the reaping of the bounty. They’ll naturally tire of the toiling far sooner than you, far sooner than will be effective, but take that with a grain of salt and finish up the job yourself later, especially with the younger kiddos.

    • Plan some fun things to do with what’s grown. Include edibles grown in the garden in snacks or meals. Allow flowers to be cut and shared with friends and family. Etch a child’s initials (or name, if short) into a small pumpkin to watch the scarred name stretch and grow right along with the gourd.

    For additional ideas on gardening with grandchildren (or any children), read Susan's—Grandparents article on Helping Kids Garden and Teaching Them to Love It.

    Photo of child courtesy

    Today's question:

    What are you planning to grow this year — with or without children?

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    Reader Comments (16)

    Yikes. I'm getting a big Gma fail on this one. My husband takes care of the garden. I prefer just to look at it.

    However, those ideas sound like much fun. If anything/anyone could get me interested in gardening, it would be the prospect of planting with a Grandchild. Who knows? Maybe I will this year!

    April 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNonnieKelly

    Our grand-daughters have grown daffodils in pots this year, and they were pretty excited to mark their progress, from shoots to blooms. They have a large garden to experiment in, but they also have a large chocolate Labrador called Monty. He's quite a digger, if only we could teach him to use a spade!

    April 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMartin

    My grandson and I planted daffodil bulbs last fall. i'm hoping to see him while they are still blooming.

    April 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarol Covin

    I'm looking for deals on plants for after Mother's Day, having had no success with seeds here in the mountains. Winters last too long in ski country...and I'm no skier.

    April 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAnn

    I'm thinking about a little herb garden in a box. It's about all I could do in my apartment, and I've become quite fond of using fresh herbs as opposed to bottled.

    April 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTerri Sonoda

    NonnieKelly: Try it! You'll like it! :-D

    Martin: Ha! Monty the Digger Dog would be quite the hindrance... or help, if the goal is cute photos, I bet.

    Carol: With yours being the second mention of daffodils, I'm now determined to do that come fall. Fun with the grandkids!

    Ann: Oh, don't say that. I'm really hoping my seeds will work. I have them in the potting shed next to a big south-facing window. Though, considering today's blizzardy blech, they may have frozen anyway. :-(

    Terri: I love that idea! I did get Brianna such a mini-garden set one year. I need to do it myself... and grow my favorite: cilantro!

    We have high bush blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and every kind of veggie you can imagine. We start the veggies from seeds and the grandkids help periodically with about all of it. In the middle of the summer, it is like they are at a salad bar - they eat as they play. The most important thing about gardening with children is that they come away knowing where their food comes from and as adults they can make good decisions on food choices.

    April 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJudy@grandparentsplus2

    I'm getting ready to plant my tomatoes. Then will add peppers and zucchini. My favorite thing to grow with my grandson is the big, huge sunflowers.

    April 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRenee Spindle

    I'm down to two helpers this year....the 5 yo twins! Two years ago the 8 yo helped me start the 'veggie patch' where we grew beans, carrots, tomatoes strawberries! Lots and lots of strawberries. He's no longer interested, but the Littles will be helping to transplant strawberries to other garden areas, and sow the seeds for more veggies! They also love to help with the annual flower plantings. Great post idea...their gloves and kid size tools, watering cans...although setting up the hose/sprinker has become the new fave!

    April 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoan Stommen

    What great ideas! I will be planting a garden spot with my grandchildren. They are ages 4 and 5. I am excited about it!

    April 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMinnesota Farm Living

    I wasn't planning to plant anything this year. I planted a bunch of new lilies last year that did well and I'm anxious to see what they do this year. Amara did get some butterfly weed seeds to plant between them, we just haven't gotten to it yet.

    April 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGrandma Kc

    That is a great list of tips and a nice inspiration. One granddaughter's house has full sun and nice soil for planting and she is now old enough to understand what we'll be doing. I can't wait to start a few herbs with her and see what happens!

    April 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoyce

    Good luck with your gardening Lisa.

    As winter is on its way in New Zealand there is not much that can be planted. Lucy & I are planning to plant one of my favourite flowers that will bloom during the winter months. They are pansies which come in a beautiful variety of colours.

    April 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSally Kabak

    I never thought about gardening with the grands since they're not local. But, I'm thinking it might be fun to have them plant something while they're here. Then I could send them photo updates on the progress of their plants via the cell phone.

    April 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVicki Valenta

    Judy: I would love to have your berry bushes. We tried to get raspberry and blackberry bushes to grow. Never happened. :-(

    Renee: Yes! Sunflowers and kids are the perfect combo for gardening, I think.

    Joan: Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention getting kid-sized gloves and such. So smart... and cute!

    MN Farm Living: You surely have the very best soil (and spot) for gardening, with grands or otherwise.

    Grandma Kc: Hmmm... I would love to have weeds that attracted butterflies! My weeds just attract, well, complaints... from me.

    Joyce: I've no doubt you'll come up with super crafty ways of sharing the gardening love. Your crafts always make me smile.

    Sally: I love pansies, too! I'm so glad to hear that from you. Shows yet again how much we are alike! :-D

    Vicki: Now THAT is an awesome idea for long-distance grandparents. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I must do the same. (Did I say thank you? Well, thank you! Great idea.)

    April 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLisa @ Grandma's Briefs

    Lisa, wouldn't it be so much fun planting with the grandkids? Yet one more task that makes me miss having him so far away. I'm not sure when I'll see mine, but you've only got about six more days, right? Woo hoo!

    Great tips for gardening with kids. I'm posting about my effort with seed planting this week too. I've discovered that neither of my thumbs are green.

    Love those grandkiddies up and enjoy your time with them!

    Patti | organizedCHAOSonline

    April 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPatti & Tawsha
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