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Ten Kid-Friendly Ways to Garden in the City

Children’s gardening has become huge all across the country. Many educators, parents, and public officials see gardening as a way to reconnect kids with nature, get them outside for some healthy exercise, and teach them about healthy eating habits. You can find many ways to encourage and entice your children to be involved in the garden at home. Actually, if it’s not seen as a chore, kids love to garden.

1

Garden at school.

Thousands of schools in all 50 states now have some form of school gardening program. Many of these schools are in cities, where they have gotten creative about where to garden. Often these programs are combined with health education, exercise, and environmental studies classes.

2

Garden at a community garden.

Many urban dwellers would love to garden but don’t have the room. Luckily, there are more than 18,000 community gardens in cities and towns across the United States and Canada.

Planting a community garden with your child is a great way to initiate them into the fun of gardening. Community gardening isn’t just about growing food and flowers on your small parcel of land. It’s also a way for you and your child to get to know neighbors and make new friends. It will help them, and you, feel more a part of your community.

3

Garden at a local botanic garden.

While botanic gardens are great places to go and relax, get some exercise, and learn about plants, many offer educational programs for members and the general public. These programs often include kids’ gardening. Some gardens have plots available on the grounds for kids to use as part of a summer program to teach children about growing food and flowers.

4

Grow a sunflower house.

Kids love hiding places in the garden. One way to build a hiding place without having to resort to building a structure is to grow a sunflower house. Sunflowers grow tall and by creating a hiding place in the middle of planting, kids feel like they have their own room to play.

To create a sunflower house, grow a 6- to 10-foot-diameter ring of tall sunflowers in the garden (the diameter will depend on your garden's size). Leave a space for an entrance. As these quick-growing annuals grow and eventually start to flower, tie the tops of the sunflowers heads together to create the roof of the house.

Wait until the flower heads form before tying the heads together. The heads don't need to be closely tied together, just enough to create the effect of a ceiling. Have your kids decorate the inside room any way they like with small chairs, tables, toys, signs, and anything else that will foster a sense of excitement for their house.

5

Let kids decorate the garden.

In order to make a garden their own, kids will often want to help “decorate” it with toys, containers, and personal items. Unless you are in a community garden where these items may disappear, let your kids put their stamp on the garden.

They will be more likely to visit and play in the garden if they have familiar objects in there. Once in the garden, it’s more likely your child will help with watering, weeding, and harvesting. The garden should be a fun place to learn and live.

6

Create a child's window garden box.

Windowsills are great places to grow small, kid-sized gardens. If you have a south, east, or west-facing window, consider building a window box to hang from the sill. Work with your children to pick out the best plants for their window box.

Select medium-sized or cascading annual plants. They can pick out annual flowers by favorite colors, shapes, or their names. They may love growing flowers with names such as clown flower, money flower, and fan flower.

7

Create a windowsill herb garden.

If you can’t attach a window box on your building’s exterior, consider an indoor windowsill garden. Have a specific windowsill dedicated to your child. Work with her to select herbs that will grow best in that window. In most areas, it would be ideal if the window is facing south to get the most light. However, even a west or east-facing window will be able to support some herbs.

8

Grow a terrarium garden.

Winter doesn’t have to mean the end of the garden. There are other ways to grow plants with your kids indoors in winter. One of the easiest and most fun is to grow a terrarium garden.

9

Grow a potato barrel.

If you have space for a garbage can in your yard, you can grow potatoes in a barrel. It’s fun, and kids will get a big kick out of the results.

Use a 5-gallon pot, an old garbage can, or a wooden barrel. Make sure it has adequate drainage holes in the bottom. Place 6 to 8 inches of potting soil on the bottom and two to three seed potatoes on top of the soil. Cover the spuds with more potting soil and water well.

As the spuds grow, keep covering them with soil until you reach the top of the container. Keep the potatoes well watered all summer, and once the vines yellow and die, turn over the container with your kids and let them hunt for all the potatoes in the soil.

10

Grow plants from store produce.

Another fun way to get kids interested in gardening and growing food is to grow plants from vegetables and fruits you buy in the store. You may not be able to eat all the plants you create, but it fascinates kids that you can create new plants from produce in the grocery store. You can regrow avocadoes, carrots, potatoes, and even pineapple.

   
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