Cultivating Your Child’s Green Thumb

Family, Farmers Market, Frisco Fresh Market

Children can be all thumbs at times, but you can nurture their green thumbs by making gardening fun, getting their input on the garden spot, and planting their favorite trees.

There’s nothing like planting fruits and vegetables, picking them when they are ripe or ready, then seeing them served at mealtime to complete that seed-to-table appreciation of gardening in little ones.

But why develop an appreciation for gardening early? Gardening is good for the heart, the eyes and the body.

KidsGardening.org, which has been funding school gardens since 1982, believes gardening can help reverse some concerning trends:

  • Diet-related illnesses, including heart disease, cancer, and Type 2 diabetes, are on the rise among children.
  • Kids ages 10-14 spend up to six hours per day looking at screens (pre-COVID-19 statistic)
  • 80% of children today aren’t physically active.

How to Teach Gardening Life Lessons at Home

Ready to show your Frisco-area kids all the ways gardening is an engaging and rewarding activity?

Let’s get started…

Make Gardening Child’s Play

Children love playing in dirt. Instead of worrying about keeping them clean, encourage them to get as dirty as they can. (They won’t disappoint you!) You can add to their joy by giving them the tools they need.

  • Kid-sized rakes, shovels, and spades
  • Watering cans
  • A bag of soil
  • Pots and containers for seeds
  • Gardening gloves

Children also will be eager to try the fruits of their labor. To see what grows well in the area and to build excitement, take your child to the Frisco Fresh Market and let them pick out some fruits, vegetables, and herbs to try.

Encourage your little ones to ask our vendors questions about growing their fruits, vegetables and plants. Some of our vendors that grow their own goods include Honey Badger Crossing (produce), Eat Your Greens (microgreens) and Nature’s Circle (luffa). Who knows? Your children may look forward to the day they can sell their own wares.

Choose a Garden Spot

Scout around with your child to pick a good plot for gardening, even if the plants will be in containers. Encourage your youngster to think about sunshine, shade, and water access for plants. You also may need to think about rabbits, squirrels, and plant-eating bugs that could present a problem.

Have your child help prepare the soil and give them materials for making signs to identify the plants in the garden. (Creating these plant markers can be a separate art project.)

If you’re starting seedlings indoors, gather materials and create a checklist for reminding your child when to water the young plants.

Once outside, help your kiddo identify and pull weeds. If insects are attacking plants, a solution of vinegar and water in a spray bottle is a safe way for your child to help protect the plants. A careful blast from the garden hose might also do the job.

Plant Their Favorite Trees

If you have the room, planting fruit trees can create a source of summer treats to enjoy and share. Fruit trees also can provide shade and color to enhance your landscape design. The climate here in North Texas allows for a variety of nut- and fruit-bearing trees, including:

  • Apple
  • Cherry
  • Fig
  • Pecan
  • Peach
  • Plum
  • Pomegranate

It can take several years before a tree is mature enough to produce, and some years your tree will be more abundant than others. When fruits or nuts are ready to harvest, allow your kids to help pick, wash, and possibly preserve them.

Sow Seed-To-Table Experiences

At home, look through cookbooks and recipe sites for simple ways to prepare and serve the fruits and vegetables your child has helped grow. This will complete the cycle from seed to table.

Wondering what to do with those herbs? How about a pizza? Celebrate! Take photos and share them with family. Honor the work that went into gardening and start planning what to try growing next.

Cultivate Your Child’s Green Thumb

Even just a little success will have helped establish a lifelong appreciation for homegrown foods. If your child grows up and decides a store-bought bamboo plant is all the growing they want to manage, you can still be glad you shared the experience now planted in your memory.

 

Article by Miranda Culvert.

Miranda has been gardening since she was 3 years old, thanks to her parents, who owned a produce stand. She has passed on her love of gardening to her three children, one of whom has a booth at the local Farmers Market.

Photo: Source