Home & Garden

Having fun with kids in the vegetable garden

Q: I like vegetable gardening and I want to get my children involved with me. Do you have any ideas for helping me?

A: You are already on your way, because you like gardening and young kids naturally model their parents’ behavior. But you can get them really excited by making gardening fun! What do young kids naturally think is fun to do outside? Play in soil, play with water and show off their accomplishments.

Let your children pick out a place to play with the soil, whether in an existing vegetable garden, in a pot they can decorate or even a cottage cheese tub. You can even let them try growing plants in an old sneaker or a discarded toy (put holes in the bottom for some drainage). Let them handle the soil and don’t worry about mess. Just make sure the child knows it’s his or her area.

Watering is also a lot of fun for kids. Let them water their new plants or seeds so they can watch them grow and be pleased with the growth. They’ll need some guidance about how often to water.

Showing off is the best part for kids. They already “own” the plant, so when it gets pretty or larger, or even bares a flower or food, they will be ready to say, “Look what I grew.” My neighbor’s children give me “presents” from their garden.

Easy and fun plant seeds to sow are radishes (grow fast), carrots (kids get to dig them up), lettuce, zucchini (grow fast and profusely), tomatoes (cherries are kid size), and peas (pretty flowers with sweet fragrance). In warmer parts of San Luis Obispo County, big pumpkins and juicy melons are fun to grow.

To see a garden display for children, please visit the “Sunshine Garden” section at the Master Gardeners’ Demonstration Garden at our next Advice to Grow by Workshop. The workshops are held the third Saturday of each month, (except for June, which will be the fourth Saturday) at 10 a.m., at 2156 Sierra Way, San Luis Obispo.


Contact the University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners: at 781-5939 from 1 to 5 p.m. on Monday and Thursday; at 473-7190 from 10 a.m. to noon on Wednesday in Arroyo Grande; and at 434-4105 from 9 a.m. to noon on Wednesday in Templeton. Visit the UCCE Master Gardeners website at http://ucanr.org/sites/mgslo/or  email mgsanluisobispo@ucdavis.edu.