Gardening with Kids

April 24, 2023, Tiffany Newman

One of the things that I am very passionate about is gardening and working in my yard. I love getting my hands dirty, growing something from seed to harvest, and knowing where my food comes from. Each year is a little different, and I learn something new every year. Since having children, it has both been much more challenging and also much more rewarding. I have found that having my kids out in the garden with me is so much fun. Having them help me in the garden has several pros and cons.


  1. Caleb using a rake in a raise garden bedI get to bond with my children outside. This is where I get to teach them all the fun things I grew up doing with my mom. When we are out in the garden, I don’t worry about the messes that they are making or how much dirt goes in their hair. For example, on the first sunny day of the spring season, we were out in the garden preparing it for plants. Every year I have to go out and clean and clear debris, rototill, and add soil to our raised beds. This year I also have had to prep an area that has been covered with firewood because we finally have somewhere other than my garden space for the firewood. While moving tarps, pieces of wood, and a large chunk of plywood, my kids found worms and other bugs. We spent at least an hour looking at these worms, holding them, and understanding their value to our garden. My kids loved it! After a while, they got bored with the worms, and we found a few other bugs to learn about, such as a ladybug and a potato bug. Carson asked many questions about them and even had the courage to pick them up. To me, this is so special. I don’t want them to be afraid of the bugs or getting their hands dirty.
  2. They get to learn where some of their food comes from and how flowers grow. Around early March, I usually will start planting my vegetable and fruit seeds. Most of the time, I will plant them on the back porch, and because I do not have a greenhouse, I use part of our dining room table to start the seedlings. Because it has been so cold this year, I brought the dirt into the house and let the kids help me on our hardwood floor. They got to pick out seeds and place them into the dirt. Then once all the seeds are in the soil, we water them and then wait for them to sprout. The kids enjoyed watching them grow, and now they have large plants that will be placed outside here soon. When the tomatoes and cucumbers are ripe and ready to eat, Carson would go out to the garden and just sit there eating them straight from the plant. We also have blueberries and raspberries that they do the same thing with. I love that they can have fresh fruits and vegetables and know how good these foods can be.
  3. They learn how to be gentle. Caleb, my youngest, is not a gentle child yet. In fact, he very much likes to wrestle with his brother and throw things. While helping me transplant, he had to be very gentle with the plants. Now, Caleb is only 18 months, so this didn’t really work all that well with him, but he was much more gentle and helpful than I had seen in a while.

Carson in a blue striped onesie sitting in the dirt with a big smile


  1. Little kids are very good at plucking plants right out of the ground after planting them. When Carson was about Caleb’s age, I would have him come out to the garden with me and plant some of the newly purchased plants or ones that I had started from seed and were ready to go into the ground. The moment I planted them, he would immediately try and pull them out of the ground. I lost a lot of plants that year, and as much as I loved having him out there with me, I realized he needed his own “garden” where he could plant and pull plants out as he pleased. This helped a little. Now Caleb is at that age, and he has already taken out a few of my plants, but I know it will be different next year.
    1. It is messy. Kids are messy, and playing in the dirt makes them even messier, but I am okay with that. I like to see them get their hands, legs, feet, you name it, dirty. Yes, it sometimes makes more work for me to clean them up or do more laundry, but it is worth it! The hardest thing is trying to keep the dirt outside when they are ready to come inside. This can be the most challenging when it is cold out, and there is a lot of mud. When it is warm, I can strip them down and leave their clothes outside until they are clean, then I can take care of the clothes later.
    2. Keeping rocks and dirt out of my youngest’s mouth. Babies love putting everything in their mouths, and being outside is no exception. Caleb still loves to put rocks and dirt in his mouth whenever possible. I usually attempt to keep a pacifier in his mouth while out in the garden to prevent that, and it usually works, but sometimes he decides to throw it out and find dirt to try. I guess it could be worse.

Carson in a blue striped onesie with a rake and a trowel in the garden.

I would suggest to anyone, let your child grow something. You do not have to live somewhere with a lot of property or even a big backyard. Heck, you don’t even have to have a yard. You can always grow something in a pot, on a porch, or inside next to a window. I have done these things, too, and they work just fine. Allowing a child to get their hands dirty, see how something grows, or learn how to take care of something as small as a plant is great for a child’s development and allows you as a parent to bond with your child over it.