Fun Summertime Activity with Kids: Planting a Garden

Planting a garden is a perfect summertime tradition to begin with the young ones

Last year, when my landlord/neighbor was renovating our garage into a studio, I nabbed the old loft frame and used it to create a raised garden bed. When I finally started the project it was late June, so I bought starts from the garden store down the street — insta-garden.

Even though we participate in a CSA, having a little patch of homegrown goodness in the backyard is good for the soul. Coraline happily spent many an end-of-summer morning gorging herself on Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes (I planted 13 plants to accommodate her voracious love of ’matoes). This year I got my act together early and started with seeds. Coraline and the kids next door helped plant the first round, and now, just a couple weeks later, tiny kale and arugula and Swiss chard are popping up in not-quite-straight rows. The joy, awe, and pride I feel looking out my kitchen window at my garden is mildly ridiculous. It’s akin to how I feel when I look at Coraline — it’s just amazing, how something can start as a tiny seed and grow so quickly into something significant and vital.

The kids are excited to watch the garden grow, too, since they helped plant it. I’ve always bought the idea that getting kids involved in planting food changes the way they see food and our environment, but actually watching it happen with my own kid is much cooler than I anticipated. She wants to help pull weeds and plant seeds and water the little plants. And she eagerly awaits the day when she can start eating the vegetables. Today, as we planted our tomatoes, I realized that we are creating our own little tradition together, like in one of her favorite books, Planting a Garden by Lois Ehlert. “Every year, mom and I plant a garden,” it starts. Someday I hope to have a garden five or six times the size, and that Coraline still wants to dig in the dirt there with me.

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