I started gardening when my son was 2. He would spend time with me and get to pick the tomatoes that he saw we planted 3 months earlier. Now at 8 he jumps at the chance to go hang out with dad and look at all the food that we grow.
Here is what I have learned about teaching my son about gardening:
1. Focus on why you are growing your garden. Food? Scenery?
2. Ownership – give them a piece of the garden they are responsible for.
3. Reward – when it comes time to pick your fruits and vegetables prepare them in the tastiest way possible.
4. Fun – don’t give your child the jobs you don’t want to do. Weeding sucks. Good leaders never ask someone to do something they are not willing to do. If your child sees you pulling weeds, they will emulate what you do and know that it’s just a part of gardening that has to be done.
5. Love – I know this lesson sounds sappy but I grow my garden to make sure I feed my family the best food possible. My son instinctively knows that the food we grow tastes better than the store bought veggies. He understands that they are healthier and safer because we know what is used to grow our vegetables. He also knows that it is time we spend together that we both enjoy.
Start small with some easy to grow vegetables like radishes, beans or carrots.
Build the habit of doing a daily ritual of watering and pointing out any new growth.
Most of all share the time together and discover the satisfaction of growing your own food.