The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

By Rhonda Herrick
Extension Educator 


Gardening with kids


Spring has sprung and garden fever is in the air. What better way to get kids outside than to plant a garden?

Making the whole garden experience a family affair can be an extension of the classroom in the outdoors. It also gives youth an opportunity to learn where their food comes from and connect them to nature.

Where do you start? Now is the time to start with the planning process. Including every member of the family in this step gives them ownership in the garden.

First, decide what your family is going to plant and where. To ensure a great gardening experience with kids, start small. Making it an overwhelming process will mostly likely deter interest in the garden.

Decide what types of vegetables or flowers can vary for the area you are in. Also, the smaller the kids, the larger the seeds should be. The seeds should be big enough for small hands to handle, and might include peas, beans, sunflowers, squash or watermelon. These plants will also germinate and grow quickly and are great plants to start inside if you want to start your garden early.

For older kids, consider planning a theme garden such as a pizza garden or a salsa garden. When temperatures are right for the area, begin the planting process. Having kids help read the seed packets and figure out when, how deep, and how far apart to plant the seeds helps to make them be more involved and committed.

If kids are responsible for watering and weeding, they will learn quickly how the garden will grow. Using appropriately sized watering cans is important for different age children. Try to do all you can to make it a positive experience. If it is difficult, kids will lose interest quickly.

Thinking of the garden as an outdoor classroom can open new learning opportunities. Here are ways to capture that learning experience: Point out and identify bugs. Research which plants go best together. Measure and track plant growth, to allow youth to use math skills. Have youth decorate plant sticks with plant names on them, to use their creative skills and keep track of what plants are in the garden.

Enjoy the time in the garden! It does not have to be big or complicated. Share your enthusiasm. Remember you are planting a seed that with a little time and encouragement can grow into something amazing!

More resources for gardening at Nebraska Extension:

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Nebraska Extension educational programs abide with the nondiscrimination policies of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and the United States Department of Agriculture.


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