Decide what you define as a successful garden.
If this is your first year gardening with children, my best tips is to start small so that the garden will be manageable and enjoyable. You do not want it to become one more chore and become a burden!
- Make the garden a child-centered project by involving the kids in every step of the process. From selecting the plants in a gardening catalog, planting seeds, getting the soil read, planting, tending, and harvesting. Allow the children to be part of the entire process!
- Take a field trip to select and buy plants. If that isn’t feasible, have children help you select plants by circling or cutting out pictures from a seed catalog.
- If this is school or child care project, try to involve the families in your program by asking parents to each send in one or two plants for the garden, to volunteer to come in to plant, tend to the garden in the summer, and/or to help with the fall harvest.
- Have the children help you prepare the pots or turn the garden, and then let them help you plant the seeds or plants.
- Young children do better with larger seeds such as pumpkin, squash, sunflower, or corn. Tiny seeds will often end up clumped together, but you can always thin the seedlings later.
- Children will help you maintain the garden if you help them see it as fun and enjoyable.
- Keep kid tasks in the garden to 10 minutes. They will be more excited to help in small chunks of time, such as weeding for ten minutes in the morning and 10 more minutes at lunchtime, then asking them to do a repetitive task for longer.
- Teach kids how to weed and how to recognize which plants to pull. Make a game of who can fill their bin first, and whoever gets their bin full helps the others.
- Photograph and journal about the garden throughout the growing season. Keep these mementos out for the kids to view throughout the year so interest in gardening is maintained.