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THE GROWING CHALLENGE: Gardening With Children

Nadira Planting Sunflowers

Gardening With Children

This Spring, on the way back from filming in the Dominican Republic, I was able to swing up to Gainesville for a few days during a stopover in Florida. Gainesville is where my aunt, cousin and three gorgeous second cousins live.

I was lucky to be there when their entire school went out to plant sunflower seeds, an annual spring ritual.


School Planting Sunflowers

School Planting Sunflowers

Hadiya Carefully Planting

Hadiya Carefully Planting

Nadira Discovering How Easy It Is To Plant With Feet

Nadira Discovering How Much Easier It Is To Plant With Feet

In addition to the sunflower field, there is a community garden where the kids grow their own vegetables and herbs, some from seed. They also compost their own fertilizer.

The School's Community Garden

The School’s Community Garden

Omari Proudly Working On His Garden Plot

Omari Proudly Working On His Garden Plot

The school also has chickens and goats, so the kids get to learn about animal husbandry. They were hiding as the rain was coming, but I did manage to get a peek of a peacock on the school roof – how cool is this school?!

Peacock On The Roof

Since the kids do read this blog and will hate those pictures, here is a sweet picture of grandma, mom, and the three kids, taken later that day in their garden at home:


Some Other Inspiration For Gardening With Children:

I know there are lots of you gardeners who have children – please share your stories and links to your posts in the comments! What’s it like? Any words of wisdom for parents just starting their gardens?

The Growing Challenge

There are currently 157 people who are a part of this challenge. Please join us! Just head on over to The Growing Challenge Page and check out what it’s all about.

Trackbacks and RSS

It seems trackbacks aren’t working as well as I’d hoped. So here’s some trouble-shooting:

  • When you’re writing posts about The Growing Challenge, use this link:


    and hopefully your site will ping mine and your post will show up in The Growing Challenge comments.

  • If your site allows actual trackbacks (WordPress sites do, I don’t know about Blogger), where your “Write Post” page says “Send trackbacks to”, enter this trackback URI:


  • If those don’t work and/or if you don’t want to deal with the technical stuff, just leave a comment on The Growing Challenge page, so we can all come find your post! And so that those who have subscribed to the Growing Challenge comments feed can see your posts!

Ok, Enough Technical Stuff, How’s Your Garden?

I know lots of you are growing gardens with children – please share! What is it like? What do your children like most? Do they actually eat the produce, or are you finding it difficult to get them to eat the goods? What funny or interesting things do you remember about your children in the garden? Does your child’s school have a garden?

And those of you who don’t have children, don’t be shy. Please update us about your garden, how it grows, what you’re up to!

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18 comments to THE GROWING CHALLENGE: Gardening With Children

  • I picked my first pumpkin yesterday!!! A cute little sugar pumpkin. I’ll probably post a picture of it tomorrow.

    I don’t have children yet, but I do teach high school botany in addition to environmental science. I have a greenhouse attached to my room, and I try to spend a lot of time in there with the botany class. I would say about 50% of our classtime is spent in the greenhouse or outdoors, which is great. It’s amazing to see how students become so attached to their plants. In the fall, we plant things that we can grow in containers. In the spring, we start seedlings that they can take home and transplant into their parents’ or grandparents’ gardens. When a student picks his or her first tomato, it’s an amazing thing!

  • Gawd I am just such a grown-up! I looked at the first picture where Nadira is on her hands and knees in the soil and my first thought was she is gonna get it when she comes home with those dirty knees. LOL funny the things that come in your head! I think it is important for adults to educate kids on gardening and growing things. Luckily we had a neighbor, Mr. Wilson who would show me wonderful things to do with plants. He id the first person I ever saw cross pollinate his pumpkins! My parents let me have a little garden and I grew things there- mostly radishes cause I have the patience of a whistling tea kettle on full boil, and it would drive me nuts waiting for things to grow.I think it is neat your kin are working hard to show kids how to grow things

  • I think having small children is on the of the best things about growing our own food… they are so enthusiastic and motivate us adults to get going!
    My girls are currently enjoying our ‘fluffy dirt’ – spending lots of time making ‘worm houses’ and chasing each other around in it while we get ready for our spring planting.

  • Divya

    I think gardening with kids is real fun. they are always so energetic and filled with enthusiasm that it just lifts your spirits even more. secondly its a great learning experience for them. its a great idea to be in the lap of nature with the little angels.

  • We have been container gardening, with the exception of some chile peppers and green peppers I snuck into the landscaping. My youngest son loves to harvest the cherry tomatoes and watch daddy eat them right away and it so excited to pull up the carrots. It’s so much fun! The chile peppers starting to turn orange in the landscaping have been the biggest surprise, he’s so intrigued food is growing with the tree and flowers!

  • Wow – excellent post! I love gardening with children! Now I’m off to check out the links you provided! Thanks!

  • Our one year old is in the grab everything and yank it towards the mouth phase, so we have to watch him like a hawk (especially since he started walking). But our daughter who will be turning 9 and can now proudly identify every growing thing on our property (with the exception of a couple weeds I’m not sure of). I think next spring I am going to set her up with some big containers.

  • Wow, that is an awe-inspiring school garden setup! My daughter’s school has a small vegetable garden that I hope will grow. They have a compost bin going now. They are trying to go green … but we heard (rumor mill only – not the official word!) that they don’t recycle because it might attract bees. Hard, I’m sure, to balance dangers (like allergic reaction) with education.

    At home, our daughter is proud of the garden but not especially interested in it. She likes to go to U-picks, though, and find her own fruit … I think fruit is more alluring than the veggies we grow!

  • My son spent most of last summer living on tomatoes we’d grown, but refused to eat any he hadn’t picked himself. We spent a lot of time trying to explain that it was ok to pick and eat red ones, but not green ones (we kept the green tigerellas for ourselves). Now it’s winter I’m missing the productivity, and the outside amusing himself time, and looking forward to having a ‘helper’ plant seeds for next season. Unfortunately now that he’s taller and better at climbing I don’t have anywhere to raise seeds inside.

    We do have to be careful to remove any weeds that might be dangerous, and their have been a few broken ceramic pots, but it’s generally good dirty fun for hours.

    In Australia there are various school garden programs, my favourite is the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden program. The Stephanie Alexander idea (she’s a well-known chef and restauranteur) is that growing and cooking classes should be run together, so the garden teacher tells the cooking teacher what will be ready to harvest soon, and that’s what the children make in cooking class.

  • Thanks for the info on the track backs, I think I’ve finally figured it out. :)

    I garden with toddlers, a whole crew of them. Their favorite thing to do is pull things out. That would be great if it were weeds they were pulling instead of plants that we want to keep! The solution for the children has been mints and hanging baskets.

    As for my garden, slowly starting to see some of the warm weather crops starting to appear. I’m really worried there isn’t going to be enough heat to ripen my grapes this year.

    For my winter garden, I’m considering growing some greens (Corn mache, cress?) that I’ve never tried before. I’m going to be prepping my winter garden bed next weekend while I’m having a “staycation.”

  • Thank you so much, you all, for sharing your stories. It’s so great to hear your stories! Keep them coming. ; ) I think they’re enjoyable to all of us!

  • Thats awesome. When my sons start school I will be pressuring the school to have its own garden.

    We are actually starting to get the eldest ready for gardening. Project was supoosed to start last monday, but he was (still is) with a cold.

    Our project for him is to get 3 old styrofoam boxes we have at mums, paint them up, pierce holes in the bottom and then plant them out … two with veg and one with flowers.
    He’ll get into the painting, and the watering … not sure how he will go on the planting bit.
    this is supposed to be an excellent book for kids and gardening. I havent got around to getting it yet. Has anyone here read it?

  • I wrote a post last week about my son’s favorite treats and one of them is picking the produce he’s either grown himself or watched grow in the garden. He eats a lot more of it now, too because of this. Here’s my link:

    Our garden is really producing like crazy and we did a “Spanish trellis” this year for our tomatoes and cucs and it’s worked out great! I wrote about it back in July but will be doing an update post on that pretty soon.

  • My son adores gardening because, as far as he can tell at 2, it involves hitting things with sticks (mostly fences and rocks), picking berries and shoveling them into his mouth as fast as he can, and chasing lizards willy-nilly through the community garden fence maze. I had all these designs on letting him grow lettuce and sunflower seeds but, you know, I think three is a more appropriate age for that.

    The thing is, as I’ve learned a little flexibility and let go of a few ideals about how we’d garden together, it’s been amazing to see all he’s taken in and learned, and how much more he’s willing to eat than he used to be. Though he’s not a farmer QUITE yet, he knows where his food comes from, he loves the garden, and he’s at home with growing things. He knows a seed makes a plant, and a plant bears food, and that food usually offers up another seed. For two, he’s pretty far ahead of a lot of adults I know. Including where I was a few years ago!

  • Better late than never! I finally got around to posting about the boys and their little carrot patch. The post is here Sorry, little one tugging on me, figuring out the technicalities will have to wait!

  • [...] Nadira, and Omari. I love them dearly – they’re amazing people. Some of you might remember my visit with them, where I stopped to see them on my way home from filming in the Dominican Republic in the [...]

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