by Mark Anderson, owner, Anderson Seed and Garden
GardeningFor as long as I can remember, my parents have had a big garden. Big is a relative term, but I mean big — like quarter acre big. Growing up, I worked in the garden with my parents, and for me it was always a lot of fun. When I’d call my friends to get together and play on Saturday, they’d almost always tell me the same thing, “Maybe later, I have to go work in the garden.” I always thought it was strange that they would say that, because our garden was 10 times bigger than theirs, but by Saturday ours was already weeded, watered and fertilized, and they still had “work” to do.

Gardening shouldn’t be work, it should be fun, relaxing, enjoyable, stress-relieving and, most importantly, delicious.

Teach yourself, and your children, how to have fun in the garden, so it becomes a joy and not only a labor.

Follow these few easy suggestions to keep your kids invested and engaged in gardening. Otherwise, it will become work they don’t want to do, and you’ll miss out on a great opportunity to spend valuable time with your children having “fun” together in the garden.

Start small. Too large of a garden will very quickly become overwhelming and too much to handle. A small garden can always be increased next year.

Let the kids grow their own plants. Do something easy to start, like a zucchini plant or pumpkins if you have the space. They produce like crazy, and your kids will feel successful quickly.

Garden in short bursts. 20-30 minutes here, 40 minutes there; always in the early morning or evening when the temperatures feel more pleasant. If you try to do it all on Saturday morning, you’ll be “working” every weekend. A little every day turns into “no work” on Saturday.

Don’t hesitate to experiment. New, exotic and different plants catch children’s attention. Try multi-colored chard, yellow watermelon, UFO spaceship-shaped squash or rainbow carrots. Hundreds of fun, exciting varieties wait for you to try them.

Don’t be afraid to fail. You’re almost destined to have a failure or two each year, but understand that gardening is a learning process, and if you don’t fail, you won’t get better at it. Also, your children will learn that it’s OK to fail, everyone does at some point, and that there’s always next year to try again to succeed.

Follow this simple advice, make up some fun gardening activities of your own and customize your plans for the different needs of your children, and you’ll be having fun in the garden in no time.