Gardening as a family

Crystal enjoys watching her daughter tend to her own personal garden—and learn valuable life lessons in the process.

Above: Bella admires her garden after giving it a good watering. Below: A section of our backyard garden.

Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells, and cockle shells,
And pretty maids all in a row.

When Bella was nine months old we purchased a plot of land at our local community garden. Every year, our little vegetable plot is one of the highlights of my summer. I love that my girl has grown up learning about gardening, watching the seeds that we plant grow and helping to harvest the fruits and vegetables that we eat throughout the summer months.

Last summer, we moved to a new house and, in addition to having our plot at our community garden, we also have some space to plant in our backyard.

For the past two weeks Rob, Bella and I have spent time selecting what we are going to grow, purchasing supplies and planting our two gardens. Adam sits in his stroller or on a blanket and happily watches as we plant, weed and water our gardens.

This year we planted basil, chives, cilantro, dill, rosemary, five varieties of tomatoes, rhubarb, raspberries, sugar snap peas, strawberries, two varieties of zucchini, potatoes and a culinary lavender. In addition to that our community garden has communal grape vines, blueberry bushes and fig, plum, pear and apple trees. I think that we are so lucky to have access to a piece of soil to plant a garden.

If you don’t have access to a community garden or a backyard where you can plant I highly suggest container gardening on your patio, by your front door or even on a window sill. The benefits of gardening with kids are numerous, but here are a few of my favourites:

  • Educational: Learning about where food comes from and the growth process from seed to table is a wonderful lesson for kids.
  • Bonding outdoors: Having a garden to tend to is a great way to get the family outdoors spending time together.
  • Helps picky eaters: Kids that you usually have to fight with to get them to eat a vegetable often become interested if it comes from a plant that they grew themselves.
  • Exercise: Gardening is a great form of exercise. Hauling bags of dirt, pushing a wheelbarrow, bending to pull weeds, squatting to dig holes for your seedlings — all help to burn calories and tone muscles.
  • Life Lessons: Patience, responsibility, nurturing, cooperation, nutrition, creativity, self esteem, the cycle of life — really the list could go on and on of all the positive life lessons that a little one could learn from their garden.

I’m really happy that Adam will grow up selecting and planting his favourite fruits and vegetables to plant in our garden just as his sister has done for the past four years. When I asked Bella what her favourite part of our long weekend was her answer was, “Planting our garden with Mommy and Daddy.” You should have seen the grin that appeared on this proud mama’s face.

Do you garden with your kids? What are some of your favorite lessons from the garden? Tweet me at @sewcreativeblog.