Spring is the perfect time to get a little dirty and do some gardening with the kids. It’s a great way to get fresh air and sunshine, you’ll get in some exercise and everyone will take great pride in what you decide to grow. In fact, planting your own edibles might even turn a picky eater into a more adventurous one. So, here are six fun gardening projects to do with the kids. —Jennifer Cox
build a bean tent. Beans might be one of the easiest veggies to grow. You can start them on a wet paper towel that is sealed in a Ziploc baggie or placed in a glass jar. Or, plant them in small cups or pots. Meanwhile, get six tall gardening stakes and stick them into the ground to create a tent shape, then tie the tops together. Place bean seedlings at the base of every pole. As they grow, they’ll wrap and wind around your tent stricture, making them easier to pick later on. Plus, if you build your bean tent large enough, you can leave an opening at the front of it so kiddos can climb inside.
create a sunflower garden. As we know, bees play such an important role in our ecosystem, and we want to do everything we can to help them thrive. Sunflowers are loved by all kinds of bees, and they grow so quickly and so hardily that they’re quite striking to watch too. Cheerios has a great Bring Back The Bees campaign where you can go to their website (cheerios.ca/bringbackthebees) and request a free packet of sunflower seeds that will be mailed to your house. Then, plant them at least 12-18 inches apart.
grow a salad. Create your own vegetable patch that has all your favourite ingredients for a delicious salad – kids will love the salad bar that will be growing there in a few months. Choose different kinds of lettuce and kale, cherry or regular tomatoes (Roma are delicious), peppers, cucumbers, and herbs.
make garden markers. Garden markers will help keep your garden organized, plus they’re fun to make! There’s lots of different types of garden markers you can create: painted rocks and popsicle sticks or even sturdy branches you find lying around will work well, and you can include the names of the plants on your markers. Quick-dry clay can be great too – make leaf prints into the clay, let them fully dry, and then spray it with a clear adhesive to weather-proof them. Other fun materials you can use as garden markers: wooden spoons, wine corks on skewers, Mason jar lids, bricks, or small flags.
build a terrarium. Terrariums are miniature self-sustaining gardens that, when sealed, create a complete ecosystem that requires little to no maintenance. You can make a functional terrarium or one just for fun (that won’t necessarily “grow”). This is more like a nature scavenger hunt because you can put almost anything into your terrarium. Use a big jar and collect rocks, branches, shells, moss, and other plants. Design to your own desire!
make a butterfly garden. There are certain varieties of plants and flowers that butterflies favour, and if you integrate those into your garden, you’ll be sure to have lots of fluttering visitors. Beebalm, ornamental grasses, yarrow, phlox, mint, snapdragons, and sunflowers all attract lots of breeds of butterflies. You can also put out plates of sliced oranges for butterflies to snack on. A water source can be a welcomed addition for these insects as well.