Share Your Family Gardening Tips

How Does Your (Child’s) Garden Grow?

Northampton Community Gardens 17

Extremes like giant sunflowers or cherry tomatoes are good choices of plants for children to have in their gardens. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield

This is the first year our family will have a “family garden” where our daughter can have her very own little plot of dirt for digging and planting.  She’s very excited and already very proud of the row of sprouting beet and zinnia seeds she has planted.

  • Anyone else have or planning on having a space for your kids to garden? What are your plans or what have you figured out that works best?

Cynthia Davis Klemmer, the Children’s Education Coordinator at the Massachusetts Horticultural Societysuggests these gardening activity tips for families:

  • Start small.
  • Be willing to put up with a less-than-perfect looking garden.
  • Leave an area where kids can dig, even after planting.
  • Get some child-sized tools or plastic spoons.
  • Make a secret place in the garden for your kids.
  • Plant extremes like huge flowers (sunflowers), small veggies (cherry tomatoes), and fragrant plants (chocolate mint).
  • Teach your kids how to compost.
  • Share gardening how-to books and storybooks.

One Comment on “Share Your Family Gardening Tips

  1. Here’s a list of gardening books a dear friend sent me recently:

    Bud by Kevin O’Malley. (2000) Ages 3-8
    Bud loves dirt and is the messiest member of his family. His parents are mystified, but they put up with his garden until Grandfather, who is even more fastidious than they are, comes to visit.

    Busy in the Garden by George Shannon, illus. by Sam Williams. (2006) Ages 3-9
    24 poems about gardening are illustrated with lively watercolors. Most of the poems are only four lines long. Some of the humor and the riddles in this collection will appeal more to older children and adults, but all children will enjoy the snappy rhythms and strong pace of the poems.

    Down to Earth edited by Michael Rosen. (1998) Ages 6 and up
    Work from 41 authors and illustrators is collected in this book, which benefits the
    nonprofit Share Our Strength. Each contributor shares a story or brief reflection about gardening.

    Flower Garden by Eve Bunting, illus. by Kathryn Hewitt. (2000) Ages 4-8
    Rhyming text follows a city girl and her father shopping for soil, flower seedlings,
    riding home on the bus, and planting an apartment window box as a birthday surprise for her mother.

    The Gardener by Sarah Stewart, illus. by David Small. (1997) Ages 4-9
    During the Depression, Lydia Grace is sent to live with her uncle in the city. Her
    letters to her parents and her gardener grandmother tell how she transforms the
    neighborhood with flowers.

    A Gardener’s Alphabet by Mary Azarian. (2000) Ages 4 and up.
    The hand-colored woodcuts in this beautiful book introduce words that will be new to most children, and many adults: arbor, compost, topiary, xeriscape. There is no glossary-the exciting task of defining the words is left to curious children and the adult gardeners who read with them.

    In the Children’s Garden by Carole Lexa Schaefer, illus. by Lynn Pauley. (1994) Ages 3-7
    Based on a real garden in the author’s home city of Seattle, this is an affectionate
    portrait of a welcoming environment. The last page suggests that readers start their own children’s garden.

    Inch by Inch: The Garden Song by David Mallett, illus. by Ora Eitan. (1975) Ages 2-7
    Maine singer-songwriter Dave Mallett celebrates nature in all its bounty in this classic song, illustrated by watercolor paintings. Complete words and music in the back.

    Jack’s Garden by Henry Cole. (1995) Ages 3-10
    Using the pattern of “The House that Jack Built,” this book shows all the
    tools, creatures, and tasks involved with the planting of a garden. Species names are included for older children.

    My Day in the Garden by Miela Ford, illus. by Anita Lobel. (1999) Ages 3-7
    Rain doesn’t stop three girls from enjoying a day in the “garden.” They dress
    in fantastical costumes and bring garden activities-digging, flower-counting,

    One Little Seed by Elaine Greenstein. (2004) Ages 0-4
    Just a few words are needed to describe the sprouting of a sunflower from one little

    Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert. (1988) Ages 2-6
    Ten simple sentences are all it takes to recount the growing cycle of this flower garden, yet the pictures show a world of color and variety. Die-cut pages reveal the rainbow in the garden.

    The Reason for a Flower by Ruth Heller. (1983) Ages 4-8
    Flowers exist to produce seeds, but this book also uses its pictures and rhyming text to show different types of flowers and explains how they reproduce.

    A Seed Is Sleepy by Dianna Hutts Aston, illus. by Sylvia Long. (2007) Ages 3-9
    Simple observations about seeds in large print are combined with sentences in smaller print that offer facts. The watercolors are full of detail, making this a great choice for sharing one-on-one.

    Sunflower House by Eve Bunting, illus. by Kathryn Hewitt. (1996) Ages 4-8
    A boy grows a circle of sunflowers that inspires play and imagination all summer long. In the fall, he and his friends find a way to prevent the flowers from disappearing entirely.

    This Is the Sunflower by Lola M. Schaefer, illus. by Donald Crews. (2000) Ages 2-6
    This is another book that uses the pattern of “The House that Jack Built,” but
    it follows the growth of a single sunflower into a sunflower patch. Stresses the beauty and importance of birds.

    This Is Your Garden by Maggie Smith. (1998) Ages 3-7
    In the second person, the author describes how a child can grow a garden, conveying how the child might feel on rainy days, when thinning plants, or when visiting other peoples’ gardens.

    The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle. (1991) Ages 4-8
    A tiny seed survives many hazards to grow bigger than any other plant. In the fall, when the plant starts to die, it sends its seeds off to start the cycle again.

    The Whole Green World by Tony Johnston, illus. by Elisa Kleven. (2005) Ages 3-8
    A rhyming poem depicts a child and a dog growing seeds. Rich, colorful illustrations
    celebrate all aspects of nature. In one spread, the child reads aloud to the seeds!

    Whose Garden Is It? by Mary Ann Hoberman, illus. by Jane Dyer. (2004) Ages 4-8
    While strolling with her toddler, Mrs. McGee wanders by a garden and wonders “whose garden is it?” Everyone in the garden claims a stake, from the insects to the soil to the sun. The rhyming text is perfect for reading aloud.

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