Greenhorn Gardeners: How to get started with your little landscapers

Whether it's starting a few seeds in a pot or helping to plant an entire vegetable garden, giving your kids the chance to get their hands in the dirt and grow something is a great experience!

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I'm over at Pam Barnhill's site again today, sharing my Greenhorn Gardeners post that shows just how beneficial horticultural activities are for young children.

Click on over to see why to get started, then come back here and see how.

We used to have quite a garden going, at least for the world of suburbia, but our last go-round of it got us so discouraged (those darn squirrels!!), we've not managed to grow much more than a pot or two of things like basil ever since Gv was born.

It also seems like any bit of green in our thumbs was immediately transferred to Gv upon her birth, because we can't seem to keep much alive these days.

I actually didn't kill this plant, it was one of Gv's, although I'm pretty sure the reason it died is because it needed a bigger pot and I just hadn't gotten around to finding one of those for her yet...

As a result, our horticultural interest has waned.

But Gv's hasn't, and her fairly decent success at growing and keeping plants alive on her own has G and I considering once again venturing into the gardening realm.

Maybe her green thumb will be our secret weapon. Even against the squirrels (those darn squirrels!!)

We'll see how things go with our garden, but regardless of whether it flourishes or flops, we're happy to see Gv happily tending her little plants around the house.

Gv's various landscaping experiments have provided several ideas for simple ways to introduce gardening basics to your children.

Although I'm no gardening master myself, here are my best tips:

  • Get your kids excited by reading plenty of books about plants and gardening. Find some of our favorites listed at the end of this post
Pulling weeds is one of her favorite things to do!

  • Try some succulents to begin with. They don't need much water and look great right away, which is helpful while waiting for new seeds to germinate or sitting alongside pots of other plants that are struggling to stay alive. (Ordering a collection of cuttings like these get you off to a great start.)

  • Next, try growing plants native to your area, followed by plants for food and then those that produce fun, colorful flowers.
Gv planted this native species almost 3 years ago at a festival. Despite my still not getting around to finding her a bigger pot to transplant it into, it's still thriving!

  • If the experience continues to be positive by this point, venture out into a small, themed garden like:
    • Butterfly garden -- even if the flowers flounder, it's fun to watch the winged creatures that come visit for a spell
    • Sunflower fort -- I've wanted to do this for a long time, the kind that creates a shady little teepee inside for tea parties and books
    • Sensory garden -- including plants that will appeal to all the senses:
      • Sight: brightly-colored flowers like daffodils, marigolds, pansies, sunflowers
      • Sound: corn, bamboo and wild grasses that sound great in the wind
      • Smell: lavender, jasmine, mint
      • Touch: succulents, snapdragons, flytraps
      • Taste: any vegetable, fruit, or herb

  • If all else fails (although I can't  imagine those succulents aren't still surviving!), find a patch of yard and create a fairy garden, which still gets the kids outside, in the dirt, and working with nature.

As I type this post, Gv's currently out with her spade in the backyard, "planting" who-knows-what (acorns, seeds from food, beans...). I've got the porch door open and the breeze is carrying her voice inside, making me think that it's probably time to give her an opportunity to step up her gardening game.

Who knows, maybe G and I can get her to plant our next massive veggie garden!

We actually have a massive compost pile in our used-to-be garden, but Gv tends this smaller contraption herself. It's super-easy to use and great fun for her to go out and spin! (Grab one for yourself here)

As promised, here's a list of our favorite gardening/plant books (find a few others over at this Latticed Learning post):

Have you discovered what color thumb your child has yet? I'd love to hear!  Either leave a comment below or email me at lisahealy (at) outlook (dot) com.

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