Gardening with Grandchildren

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Member Spotlight: The following is a guest blog post from GrowIt! member ‘melindah.’ Melinda created a learning container garden with her grandchildren in Washington state. Connect with Melinda on GrowIt! (tap from mobile) and ask for tips on keeping young children interested in gardening.

Also, check out the resources from our friends at kidsgardening.org, including an upcoming webinar on gardening with kids indoors.

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It is an honor to be asked to write about “Gardening with Grandchildren.” It’s been quite a journey to get to this place. I’m blessed with twelve grandchildren and one great-grandchild, and I love sharing my passion for gardening with them.

As a child, I spent several years living on a farm, learning first-hand where our food comes from and learning, if you don’t work, you don’t eat. There is a moral value we learn when we connect ourselves with nature and the natural order of life.

I became a mother young and raised four children. I say, I learned a lot — they raised me too. We started out in the public school system. However, homeschooling became a way of life and is now a tradition in parts of our family.

As a homeschooling mom, you recognize so much of your children’s potential. You learn to open new doors giving them more opportunity to explore. We took educational trips to the meat market and grocery store. But we also learned where the food came from by visiting a dairy farm, and by GARDENING.

We had a beautiful backyard. The kids loved to work in the garden, especially my oldest daughter who now gardens with her four children. We spent many years there.

But life changes and sometimes the road doesn’t always go as planned. A friend once said, ‘life always ends up where it was intended to go.’ I must say, I have to agree. I left the beautiful property where I raised my children and spent a few years living in an RV, traveling and ‘camp hosting’ at some of our nation’s treasured natural parks and places. Staying at a lighthouse was my favorite! With this lifestyle came the adventure of gardening in containers. Herbs first. Then vegetables and some fruits.

Recently, I went all in with experimenting with every kind of vegetable and herb imaginable that would grow in my area. Then with my grandchildren, compared the growth and harvest of ground-grown plants vs. container plants.

Grandma tip –
My Granddaughter Tiki inspired this year’s garden strategy by her questions every single day…”What’s that?” “What’s this?” she would ask as we walked the aisle of containers.

Buy a package of chopsticks or wooden skewers and tape either the seed packet or a name tag with the plant name on the stick. I include the common and scientific names.

For the first few days after installing the signs, Tiki and I would read them together, but now that she knows, it’s me that quizzes her “What’s that? What’s this?”

It’s November now, and my grandsons (ages 4 & 5) and granddaughter (age 2) can probably name off more plants than many adults today!

It scares me how many children do not know where food comes from or how it appears stocked at the store. Many adults don’t know how to cook much less grow food. These are basic elements necessary for life and as vital as drinking water and breathing. Our food supply is taken for granted.

My advice for getting started with gardening with kids is to start with container gardening. You can grow in containers anywhere. And trial and error as with any gardening. Pot size is important! And remembering to feed them nutrients (organic preferred).

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