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Gardening with Young Children

Teaching your child how to garden is a fun, hands-on learning experience that encourages patience, imagination and environmental awareness.  The best part about learning to garden is that it’s something your family can enjoy together, indoors or out!

Before you begin, talk with your child about the whole gardening process to peak their interest and help them become excited about the experience.  You could also pick up a children’s book about gardening or visit a children’s gardening Web site.

When you’re ready to start, gather a few supplies and child-appropriate tools—soil, seed cups, watering cans, etc.  Take a trip to the garden center together to pick out your supplies and seeds or seedlings for planting.  Some great plants for children to start their gardening experience with include sunflowers, snow peas, cherry tomatoes and strawberries. Read seed packets and plant tags—anything with easy care and a short growing season are perfect for little ones to plant! Be sure to acknowledge that some non-edible plants can be poisonous.  Check the National Capital Poison Center Web site for a list of some poisonous plants and always supervise your child while gardening.

Now that it’s time to plant, choose your location. If you have a large garden, section off an area or, if you don’t, use an old sandbox filled with soil as your child’s own special garden. Encourage your child to care for their plants throughout the entire process—from seed, to seedling, to mature plant, to harvest. How exciting it will be when the whole family is enjoying the fruits and vegetables they raised all on their own!