All Ages Grow Together in the Garden

children-in-gardenAs the sun stays up longer each day, gardeners of all ages begin to dream about summer harvests. The joy of every gardener is a new season and the sweet smell of soil. Right?

Not so fast—many people face challenges that make it difficult to garden. It might be finding the time in a busy schedule, decreased mobility or trying to get little ones to plant seeds in the garden bed, not under the fence. In these situations, even the most dedicated gardeners can feel that it’s too much of a hassle to get outside and commune with plants. But gardening begs us to be resourceful, creative and experimental.

Try pairing your parents with your kids in the garden! Intergenerational gardening is a wonderful opportunity for elders and youth to garden and learn together. Adults can share knowledge and in return youth can inspire and help. Consider their needs carefully. Is the child old enough to help if the adult can’t lift or bend well? Adults should be ready with patience and a few quick activities beyond weeding and watering. Have easy art projects ready like making garden signs or “bug houses” to attract beneficial insects. Have a comfortable place to sit for everyone. Stories are bound to emerge and new memories created.

children-plantingFor young families, even the most experienced gardener can be no match for a two year old with a desire to dig. Take a step back and consider adjusting your landscape for small children: allow more space for pathways and digging, and choose hardier plants. Fill a pot with soil — a special digging spot just for toddlers. Plant seeds that are easy for small fingers to pick up and that have quick germination rates such as peas and radishes. Transplanting works if the parent can guide each step, emphasizing gentleness.

Busy lives can leave little time for the garden. Growing annual vegetables can be time-intensive. Try edible perennials such as strawberries, artichokes, sorrel, berry bushes, grapes or even asparagus. Perennials are often more tolerant of inconsistent watering as well.

The wonderful thing about gardening is that it can adapt as our lives evolve. As we change, so will the garden, and we can continue enjoying the fruits of our (minimal) labor.

165Want to get growing in the garden with your children this summer? Sign up together for one of our kids camps! Campers will gain new friendships, a deeper connection to the earth and a renewed inspiration for learning. Parents will leave with great tips for keeping kids safe in the garden, new gardening techniques for their young children and more.

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