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Encouraging Heroes. You can be one too.

Gardening can be a wonderful family activity and a great way to encourage kids to get outdoors, as well as develop healthy eating habits. Plant a love of gardening in your child. Here are five ways to teach your kids how to start a garden.

Start Plants from Seed
There’s not many things in life that are more amazing than to watch a seed sprout, grow from a seedling to a full-size plant, and yield delicious fruits and vegetables that we can eat. Kids don’t always have a lot of patience, so be sure to choose some plant varieties that grow quickly from seeds such as sunflowers, pole beans, snap peas, radishes, leaf lettuce, and spinach.

Give Them Their Own Space
Choose a spot in the garden for kids to grow whatever they wish. Be sure that it’s not too big, or they may become overwhelmed by the work involved in maintaining their space. At the same time, be sure it’s big enough to accommodate what the kids choose to grow.

Grow Foods That They Love
Kids are more inclined to be interested in gardening if they grow foods that they already know that they like. If they love pizza, let them grow tomatoes, onions, garlic, basil, oregano, and other veggie toppings such as peppers, eggplant, and zucchini. If they enjoy tacos, they might choose to grow jalapeno peppers, tomatillos, and cilantro. To make it even more fun, let your kids invite their friends over to enjoy pizza or tacos that they “grew” themselves!

Give Kids Their Own Tools
Kids have small hands, so “borrowing” Mom or Dad’s gardening tools can be uncomfortable. Affordable kid-sized gardening tools such as trowels, rakes, gloves, and watering cans are widely available at local garden centers. Be sure to pick up a set for each child in the family. Consider a nice, colorful pair of boots or garden clogs for kids to wear while they’re in the garden too.

Go Beyond the Garden
Let’s face it – sometimes parents don’t have all the answers. And even when we do have them, sometimes getting those answers from a fresh perspective is just more fun. Local garden centers, Master Gardener programs, and botanic gardens often offer gardening and horticulture courses geared especially for kids. Consider signing your kids for a horticulture course! They may even end up being able to teach you a thing or two about gardening!

Earnest Parenting: help for parents who want their kids to enjoy gardening.