As the cold weather creeps in and we begin to move our activities indoors, why not curl up with your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews and dream of gardening in the warm summer sun?
Start the fun process of planning your 2013 garden to help take the chill out of the long cold winter days. Involving the young ones in your life will make it that much more special.
When gardening with kids the No. 1 rule is to make the garden a place of imagination and fun ... a place where it is all right to get dirty and play, to pick the zinnias, open the pea pods and behead the dandelions. Plan a new space in your garden just for them to "discover" in every way possible. Realize that the garden may not look the prettiest by the end of the season, but it will be well worth the love and learning that it created.
When pumpkins are small and green, scratch the names of children in the flesh with your fingernail; the children will have a great time watching their names grow through the season. Two-year-old Ollie Burgeson is shown enjoying the fruits of his labor.
Letting kids be kids to learn about the world around them will benefit you as well. Here are just a few of the many benefits of gardening with kids:
It provides quality time with your kids,
Teaches responsibility and instills a sense of pride and ownership,
Provides kids with exercise and fresh air,
It's a great learning experience for kids,
It gives kids an activity they can have fun with for the rest of their lives,
It helps kids "dig" Earth.
As the garden catalogs start rolling in and you begin planning your garden, have the kids look through them and pick out a few plants they might like to grow or search for pictures of plants on "your" list to include in the garden. You can have the kids cut the pictures out and put in a journal or scrapbook to build the excitement.
If you are wondering what types of plants to grow with kids, here are 10 fun and easy plants to get you started.
Radishes: Instant gratification is key with kids. Plant radishes even if you don't like them; they come up in only three or four days.
Beans: The seeds are easy for kids to handle plus they can be planted to grow into a bean teepee fort.
Peas: The pods are fun to open, and the kids can enjoy the peas right in the garden.
Pumpkins: Great for jack-o'-lanterns and pumpkin pie. When the pumpkins are small and green, scratch the kids' names in the flesh with your fingernail; the kids will have a great time watching their names grow through the season.
Old Fashioned Bleeding Hearts: Taking one of the heart-shaped blooms apart and finding all the interesting objects inside is fun for anyone.
Nasturtiums: The seeds are large, and they produce colorful, fragrant flowers quickly. They also taste like a radish when eaten.
Sunflowers: They can be made into forts, and they give kids something to look way up to. Plus they provide food for birds.
Four O'Clocks: An annual that is fun for kids to "tell time."
Lamb's Ears: The very soft, velvety gray foliage is a favorite to anyone who touches it.
Creeping Thyme: A very resilient herb that's great between stepping stones. When kids step on it, it releases a beautiful scent.
Whatever you plan for the 2013 growing season, include the youngsters in your life, and it will make it one for the memory books. Happy Gardening!
For more ideas about gardening with kids please visit Cornell's Garden Based Learning website at blogs.cornell.edu/garden/.
The mission of the Chautauqua County Master Gardener Program is to educate and serve the community, utilizing university and research-based horticultural information.
Volunteers are from the community who have successfully completed 50-plus hours of Cornell-approved training and volunteer a minimum of 50 hours per year.
For more information on the Master Gardener Program, please contact Betsy Burgeson, Master Gardener Coordinator at 664-9502 ext. 204 or Emh92@cornell.edu.
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