Kid's Activity: Let's Get Ready to Garden!

by Carol Jordan

Getting Started

boy with fresh lettuceIt's a beautiful, spring day. The kids are ready for an outside activity and so are you! How about creating a kids' garden plot? Preparing your garden begins before planting season arrives. For different areas the preparation time comes in different months.

Those in the southern United States and most of the coastal areas can begin planting in March; those in the central United States and the north eastern coastal areas won't begin planting until May; and those in the northern states and Canada might not begin planting until June.

March is a great time to prepare an area for a vegetable garden or flower bed; clearing out any weeds, rocks, or other things that would get in the way of planting.

  • Make a stack of small rocks, large rocks, a pile of burnable stuff, another pile for things that will compost (We'll talk about composting with kids as another activity!).
  • Grab a garbage sack for the unexpected miscellaneous that may show up.
  • Add fertilizer, peat moss, or other needed soil enhancers.
  • Get out the spade and rake. Now you're ready to spade the soil to a 6 or 8 inch depth.
  • The last step is to rake smooth and admire the prepared area!

How Big a Garden

Start small! A good rule of thumb for children's individual gardens is one square foot per year of age. A six-year-old should find a 2 foot by 3 foot patch about as much as she wants to care for. Your four-year-old will most likely burn out unless he has a smaller plot -- one about 2 foot x 2 foot or a 1 foot x 4 foot border area.

Be sure you have chosen a place with ample sunlight, adequate drainage and little traffic since you don't want your child's garden flooding or being trampled. Once your garden area is clear and ready you will want to decide what to plant. Below are recommended plants that work well for children:

What Grows Best in Your Area

Gulf Coast
Pentas
Lemon Tree
Giant Mallow
Sweet Potato
Mint (shaded areas only)
Avocado Tree
Carrots
Lettuce
Periwinkle
Johnny jump-ups
Caladium
Coleus
Heart-leaf philodendron
Elephant ears

Mid Atlantic
Lemon verbena
Lamb's ears
Sweet basil
Johnny jump-ups
Hyacinth bean
Scented geranium
Mint
Zinnia
Gourds
Four o'clocks
Shasta daisy
Sunflowers

Canada
Carrots
Beets
Bush green beans
Corn
Nasturtium
Zucchini
Marigolds
Zinnias
Sunflowers
Snapdragons

Midwest
Mint
Morning glory
Purple coneflower
Bulbs of any kind
Marigolds
Sweet 100 tomatoes
Strawberries
"Super" petunias
Coleus
Globe amaranth

Mountain Region
Pansies
Scarlet runner bean
Sweet potato vine
Cosmos
Sweet 100 tomato
Shasta daisy
Zinnia
Marigold
Pumpkins
Strawflower
Purple pod bush beans
Avocado (in a pot)

New England
Nasturtium
Ornamental corn
Pole beans
Colorful lettuce
Giant pumpkins
Lemon gem marigold
Scented geranium
Alpine strawberry

Northwest
Pineapple (from tops)
Avocado (from seed)
Bulbs (in glass)
Radishes
Carrots
Colorful lettuces
Godetia
Cosmos
Calendula
Pumpkins
Gourds
Sunflowers

Southeast
Watermelon
Pansies
Marigold
Zinnia
Potatoes
Cherry tomatoes
Four o'clocks
Gourds
Sunflowers
Mint
Okra
Climbing beans
Queen Anne's lace
Moonflower vine
Bachelor buttons

Ohio Valley
Four o'clocks
Hyacinth bean
Gourds (any kind)
Love-in-a-puff (cardiospermum)
Carrots
Spaghetti squash
Purple bush beans
Mimosa
Evening primrose
Sunflowers

watering the gardenSouthwest
Morning glory
Sunflowers
Evening primrose
Yellow pear tomato
Chile peppers
Corn
Lamb's ear
Purple basil
Mexican petunia (Ruellia)
Periwinkle
Colorful beans
Cactus

West Coast
Lemon verbena
Zinnia
Hibiscus
Chocolate mint
Scented geranium
Gourds
Nasturtium
Pumpkins
Sunflowers
Spaghetti squash
Alpine strawberry

Container Gardens

peeking in the flower potIf you don't have room for a garden you can create a container garden and make your own planters using a variety of inexpensive objects. Below is a list of potential planters:

  • Old boots or shoes - great for small plants or flowers
  • Old tires - once cleaned with grease remover these serve as interesting planters for flowers of any size! This can also be painted with outdoor paint to make it more colorful.
  • Plastic soda bottles (2 or 3 liter size) - for small plants only
  • Plastic sweater box - works very well for indoor use. Just fill the bottom with aquarium gravel and then add in the potting soil and whatever else you need to create a beautiful space!
  • Fish bowl (or aquarium) - fill the bottom with aquarium gravel or small rocks and then add in potting soil and plants.
  • Empty egg shells - great for growing grass!

Plant a variety and enjoy!

Carol Jordan is the mother of 2 children. She has been a preschool teacher for 9 years and is working toward a CDA (Child Development Associate) an Early Childhood Education professional credential.

Copyright © Melissa Jaramillo & Julie Snyder. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.