8 tips for getting your kid in the garden

8 tips for getting your kid in the garden

The National Gardening Association has lots of ideas for getting kids interested in gardening at its web site, www. kidsgardening.org. The web site's editor, Barbara Richardson, dug up these helpful tips:

1. Since kids are prone to instant gratification, start with a flat of annual flowers. The rewards are immediate.

2. Gravitate toward unusual plants, such as pink potatoes, orange cauliflower or purple beans. Or focus on edible flowers and herbs, such as nasturtium and basil, and fragrant plants, such as lemon basil and orange thyme, to engage multiple senses.

3. Kids, even older ones, like hiding places, so grow them one in the garden. Two ideas: Plant tall-growing (such as Mammoth) sunflower seeds in a circle, leaving a space for a "door" that kids can crawl through once the flowers have grown 10-feet-high.

Or build a simple teepee out of fallen tree branches or long, gardening stakes, and plant bean seeds around the outside of it. Beans grow fast, and soon the children will have a secret hiding space.

4. A birdbath or, better yet, a small, shallow pond, will encourage critters, such as frogs, to enter your garden, which in turn might draw your children out there, too.

5. If a tool attracts them, let them dig a hole.

6. Notice the changes that take place in the garden, and track them on a calendar, in a journal or with photographs. Pay attention to the birds and insects in your garden, too.

7. Build a scarecrow together. Build a birdhouse. Make personalized stepping stones to mark the pathway. Garden-related projects may lead to more time playing in the garden.

8. Plant a garden based on a child's favorite storybook. Richardson recommends "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" and "The Tale of Peter Rabbit."