Dads, Kids, and Gardening Grow Great Together
While it may be a mother – as in, Mother Earth – who gets most of the attention related to anything outdoors and nature, there’s a lot that fathers can do to play their part.
Oddly enough, most stereotypes behold that mom’s domain is inside the home, while dad’s is everything outside of it. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The truth is, any parent can foster a child’s love of growing plants and gardening.
My dad was a fervent champion of growing a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, and using the land to make our food instead of paying grocery stores top dollar for it. He planted a half-acre garden, a mini-grove of apple trees, strawberry plants, and grape vines – among other things – just to provide for our family year round.
But no matter the impetus, there’s great value in creating a garden with children regardless of how much space you have. My suggestion is to start small – like, really small. There are a lot of fun micro terrariums and fairy garden kits in stores, and they all grow fast. Receiving that instant gratification can spark a child’s interest immediately, and you can start those kits no matter the season.
But if you’d like to get a little more serious with gardening that involves seed packets, dirt, and actual weeding, potted plants fit just about anywhere. Any flower will do, but sunflowers are particularly fun. Tomatoes and potatoes are also good pot dwellers.
Beyond all the obvious benefits of eating healthy, gardening offers dads and kids a lot more. One of those is bonding. It will give you and your children an opportunity to work on a project together while talking. That’s right, actual conversation! If you’re looking for a chance to lessen screen time, this is it.
Gardening is also a great workout. Digging, weeding, bending, stretching – it’s all part of what can be a very beneficial time to burn calories. And let’s not forget the other spinoff perks of lowering blood pressure, reducing stress, and more. So not only are you growing healthy, natural food, you’re doing plenty for your mind, body, and soul.
Nurturing a green thumb in your child can also turn him from anti-vegetable to all-in. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as seeing what you have planted flourish to life. One year we planted a few rows of radishes, and our kids ate them nonstop. Radishes! I have to believe that if I had brought them from the store like any other vegetable, they would have scoffed. Trust me, your kids are far more likely to eat something they’ve grown.
It also gives your kids some much needed independence. You can plant some items together, but consider giving them a section or some pots all to themselves. Let them be totally responsible for watering, weeding, and ensuring sunlight. They can even mark their seeds with fun signs and give them pet names, too.
Many of us start our kids very young with other extracurriculars (music and sports come to mind), so why not do the same with gardening? Like anything we do in life, the point is to have fun, and gardening offers the uniqueness of allowing parents and kids to work side-by-side.