kids in the garden

Photo courtesy of author

So, my daughter wants to have a little piece of the yard for her very own garden this year. This, from the young lady who suffers dramatically from the experience, whenever her mom has tried to get her to help weed the existing garden, in summers past. But we’re willing to create a small space for her, as she requested.

We’re happy enough to do it, because there are plenty of benefits to be derived from having kids in the garden, beyond the increase in fresh flowers and veggies for this season. Can’t go wrong with a positive bonding experience with her Mom and I; improved chances of developing a life long interest in growing her own food; and an increased respect and love of nature and the environment.

“I was determined to know beans.” – Henry David Thoreau

Besides the obvious benefits associated with her being able to spend quality time with me and her mom, we’ll establish her little garden in a way that will involve her reasoning and analytical skils. We’ll work with her so she can figure out if there’s enough light for what she wants to grow, when to plant, how much water, etc. (She doesn’t know I’m going to do this yet, so if you could keep it on the down low…. Thanks.)

And it can be a tool to help them develop empathy. I read that somewhere…

“When I go into the garden with a spade, and dig a bed, I feel such an exhilaration and health that I discover that I have been defrauding myself all this time in letting others do for me what I should have done with my own hands.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Historically, I generally put a lot of work into the garden at the beginning of the season, and then leave it largely to my wife to manage from there.   I’ll till and rake and dump and rake, and turn the compost pile and till some more, and help plan what we’ll grow, and then…. I tag out.

“There is nothing pleasanter than spading when the ground is soft and damp.” – John Steinbeck

This year, I’m planning to be more involved throughout the season, as we plan to grow both early and late season vegetables, and expand it a bit. If I’m going to encourage my daughter to follow thru on her request for her own garden space, I can’t very well NOT participate more fully now, can I?

And we lament the space we do not have, and how much more we’d like to be able to grow, that is just not realistic for us. And this is an important point, when encouraging kids in the garden.  Make the most of the space you have, and be content with it. Even if it’s a bean plant on the window ledge above the kitchen sink, or a single tulip bulb, the act of growing something is still worthwhile.

Turns out, my daughter doesn’t want to grow vegetables in her little garden. She wants to grow flowers. But…but…you can’t eat flowers…. Except sometimes, you can…. So, in whatever capacity you’re able, seriously consider getting your kids in the garden growing something this spring.

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Patrick Murray is a dad to a wonderful daughter, a big fan of his wife, a lover of the outdoors, and a bit of a goof. He has a degree from Michigan State University, and recently re-located to a small town, after living in a metropolis for 15 years. If you had told him a year ago that he’d be spending his spare time bonding with chickens, he would have laughed at you. As he does tend to go on about things, you can read more at

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