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Introducing your children to gardening

Introducing your children to gardening
Credit: Espace pour la vie (Martine Larose)
Introducing your children to gardening
Introducing your children to gardening

Gardening is a wonderful activity to share with your children. If you create individual spaces tailored to children’s ages, they can take care of their little garden patches themselves.

Here’s some advice to get you started:

  • Plant similar vegetables in your space and theirs. That way you can demonstrate how to maintain them in your section, and your children can do it themselves in their own garden space. Pride guaranteed!
  • Lay out four little 60-centimeter squares or a circle divided into triangles (like a big bicycle wheel) and mark off those spaces with a wooden frame. Little preschoolers will better be able see the borders of their garden patch and avoid stepping in it!
  • Plant one or two vegetables per section according to their size at maturity.Allowing children to choose what they want to sow or plant is also a sure way of motivating them to garden.
  • Respect their abilities and don’t focus on the results but on the experience itself, and never mind if the garden isn’t perfect. For example, if you plant vegetables too closely together, they’ll turn out less flawless, but you’ll get funny shapes that are every bit as edible.

Children, as much as grownups, can garden side by side. They’ll harvest vegetables and benefit from the peaceful garden setting, a one-of-a-kind place for sharing and exchanging.

Seeds for every taste

Ready to set off on the gardening adventure? Some things are easier to grow than others. Here are a few that you’ll have a lot of success with.

With small children, choose seeds that are easy to handle, like the ones for green beans, peas and nasturtiums. Kids like different-colored carrots a lot, also cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, potatoes, broccoli, lettuce and all berries. Sunflowers and corn are impressive to see growing.

Easy-to-grow herbs like dill, coriander and Asian mustard can stimulate toddlers’ taste buds. Different colors and flavors can be found at producers.

The gourd family also generates a lot of interest. Plant gourds like zucchini, pattypan squash or acorn squash, which need less space than the better-known pumpkin.

Fast-growing vegetables like radishes, or potatoes, which are harvested in the fall, are interesting to grow with children. A radish ready to eat after three weeks allows you to look forward to future harvests, while the late-season potato crop cultivates patience in children.

Highly useful works in the Jardin botanique library

Many books on gardening with children are available at the Jardin botanique library.

Some of them offer different gardening activities, for example:

  • Jardiner avec les enfants, Kim Wilde, Broquet
  • Gardening with Children, Brooklyn Botanic Garden
  • The Book of Gardening Projects for Kids, Whitney Cohen and John Fisher, Timber Press
  • Jardiner avec les enfants, Jenny Hendy, Delachaux et Niestlé
  • Jardinez avec le professeur Scientifix, Huguette Beauchamp-Richards and Robert Richards, Québec Science Éditeur

Gardening as a family over an entire season:

  • Un jardin avec Aristott, Yves Gagnon, Colloïdales

Gardening as a group:

  • De l’école au jardin, guide de jardinage pédagogique en milieu scolaire, Karine Lévesque, Écosociété

What’s new as of 2019 at the library:

  • Le potager naturel à hauteur d’enfants, Jean-Marie Lespinasse, Rouergue
  • Nature Play at Home, Nancy Striniste, Timber Press
  • Gardening with Emma: Grow and Have Fun: A Kid-To-Kid Guide, Emma and Steven Biggs, Storey Publishing, LLC

Other books offering multiple gardening experiences and ideas:

  • Great Gardens for Kids, Clare Matthews, Hamlyn
  • Graine de jardinier, Catherine Nuridsany, Flammarion
  • Copain des jardins, Renée Kayser and Nathaële Vogel, Milan
  • Les petits jardiniers, Sylvie Roberge, Dominique et Compagnie

The most important thing is to cultivate the pleasure of enjoying this experience with your child.

Happy gardening!

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