In my last post I shared some of the life lessons I learned from planting a fruit tree.

Children can learn a great deal from gardening, too. I don’t mean that you necessarily have to construct raised wicking beds in the back yard (though you could). Your garden encounter could be as simple as starting seeds on a windowsill or growing a few flowers and veggies in pots on the patio. Even a small commitment of time and effort can yield huge results!

When you garden with your children, even a small investment of time and effort can yield huge results! Click To Tweet

Here are some gardening options you might like to try:

  • Let your little ones enjoy the classic intro to botany by planting lima beans against the sides of clear plastic cups filled with soil or damp paper towels. Keep a chart (math) to show how many days it takes for the roots to show, how much longer for the stem to sprout and show leaves, and how much the little plant grows each day.
  • If you’re not able to plant a large garden, think creatively about how you might grow fruits, vegetables, and herbs in containers on a windowsill, in a windowbox, on the porch or patio, in hanging containers, or on a rooftop garden. Research how people around the world (geography) manage to grow food in urban areas or in regions where soil and weather conditions are a challenge.
  • If you have plenty of space, you might try growing a maze of corn or giant zinnias or creating a shade teepee of pole beans or vines.
  • Try a theme garden. For example, you might plant a pizza garden with tomatoes, peppers, onions, basil, oregano, and thyme. Lois Ehlert has written children’s books about Planting a Rainbow, Growing Vegetable Soup, and Eating the Alphabet.
  • Start a variety of seeds in soil in empty egg cartons so they can be spaced out easily when you transplant them outdoors.
  • Older children might like to experiment with soaking some seeds and comparing the time to sprout with a control group of seeds that were not soaked before planting. You might also experiment with different types of soil, different lighting, and frequency of watering.
  • Experiment with different fertilizers–those designed to produce leaves, those that encourage flowers and fruits, and natural fertilizers such as manure and compost. Observe which are effective and read about the benefits and disadvantages of each.
  • Save seeds from fresh fruits and vegetables your family consumes. See if you can get them to sprout. Many modern fruits and vegetables are hybrids. Some will not reproduce. Study the effects of hybrids on production and on nutrition.
  • See if there’s a farmers’ market or county fair in your area where you could sell your produce or compete for prizes!

If your family has enjoyed educational experiments in gardening, please feel free to share in the comment section!