My Child is Interested in Gardening. What are the first Steps to Encourage This Interest?

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From My Very Own Garden A garden design for children. Help your child plan and plant this miniature garden but let them be the primary gardener. Annual flowers are easiest to take care of and can be purchased inexpensively by the flat. Although seeds are the least expensive, it may be harder for kids to be patient.

Let your child design and plot the shape of their garden. A 4×4 foot rectangle is the easy to dig and small enough to maintain. A border garden works well, as long as your child can reach the back row. If you already have an existing garden, you could give your child a corner or raised bed of their very own. The circular plan (below) is five feet in diameter with a one foot bisecting path. This makes weeding and cutting easier.
Draw their ideas together on a piece of paper. Do not over plan their garden with graph paper, etc. It is recommend you help them plan which flowers to plant. Does your child want a fragrant garden? A garden for cutting flowers? A garden to attract butterflies? Would they like to combine flowers with vegetables?

Low maintenance flowers like petunia, pansy, marigold, alyssum, snapdragon, daisy and cosmos are a great start. A garden book with color pictures will be a big help.

Then a trip to the nursery is in order. After your plants are purchased it is time to dig, turn the soil and plant. Most kids need help with the spacing and watering the first time. Kids may tend to over feed and water their new gardens so help them with a schedule for watering and feeding. After a while you will need to give a lesson on weeds. Many weeds are flowering and pretty, but will choke a new plant. Pesticides are NOT recommended for children’s gardens. Ask your local nursery for natural pest removal tips –Ladybugs remove aphids, rolled newspaper for earwigs etc.

Designing and Planting a Butterfly Garden with Kids

Acres of land are not necessary for a successful butterfly garden. 
A window box, or container garden will do the job.

First, have your child select the plants from the list below.
Then, help them draw a simple plan, with proper flower spacing and plant accordingly. Use the steps below for planting your garden: 
1.    Dig the garden, break up the soil with a garden fork, add peat moss if necessary, creating a loose, fluffy soil for the young plants’ tender roots. 
2.    Plant short flowers in the front and taller plants in the back. This design allows proper sunlight and keeps both low-feeding and high-feeding butterflies happy. 
3.    After planting soak the soil. This is good for the plants but also helps butterflies that suck the wet soil for salts and fluids–a behavior known as “puddling”. 
If you are starting with seeds…do NOT soak the soil but follow the instructions on your seed packets.
Tip: Planting groups of flowers rather than single plants will attract more butterflies. Keep your butterfly garden pesticide-free! 

Plants that Attract Butterflies

Coneflowers, impatiens, marigolds, phlox, sunflower, verbena, zinnia, cosmos

Asters, bee balm, butterfly weed, chrysanthemums, daisies, coneflower, sedum, aster, daisies and yarrow

Planting parsley to attract caterpillars will help to generate a very active butterfly garden.