Now that it’s starting to warm up a little outside, you may want to incorporate some gardening into your homeschool and family life this spring and summer. It is a skill well worth learning and is one your child will carry with them for the rest of their life!
The educational opportunities within the realm of gardening are wide and varied. Obviously, you’ll be learning about science and plants, but it can go so much deeper. Just a few reasons to teach your kids about gardening and growing their own food:
- Learn how save money on your grocery bill (Economics)
- Develop healthy eating habits (Health)
- Get outside for sunshine and exercise (P.E.)
- Develop patience and nurturing skills (Character Education)
- Hands-on experience with photosynthesis, ecosystems, the pH of soil, pollination, weather patterns and frost (Science)
- Calculate harvest/yields, learn square foot gardening techniques (Math)
- Study leaders in plant science such as George Washington Carver and Gregor Mendel (History & Biology)
As you can see, gardening lends a hand to learning a whole lot of “stuff” across the curriculum. There is no better way to learn about your own environment than to get outside and grow something.
To get started you have to do just that – get started! Don’t just wish about gardening, or think about doing it. Buy some seeds and get right down to it. My best advice is to invest in some good soil and good seeds and then begin growing something as soon as you can. There are lots of ways to get started gardening. A few favorites:
- Herb gardens
- A small kitchen garden (tomatoes and peppers)
- Square foot gardens
- Raised beds
- Container gardens (all you need is one pot to get started)
- Or of course, the traditional row or plot garden
A Few Considerations
What type of garden you plant will depend on where you live and what your location is like, as well as your needs and schedule. If you don’t have a yard or live in an apartment or condo, you can garden in pots and containers on your front or back porch. If you have a large yard, you can stretch out a little more and perhaps even try a traditional row/plot garden. If you have a lot of time and energy to devote to gardening, go all out. If you don’t, start small. Growing just one thing is better than growing nothing at all!
First, make sure your gardening location is in a spot where it will get at least 8 hours of sunlight. This way your plants will get enough sunshine to grow appropriately and you’ll be able to enjoy some fruits of your labor. Think about trees, buildings, and other factors that may shade your garden and plan around them.
If you don’t have good quality soil, purchase some to get started, or work on amending your own soil to bring it up to quality. Don’t know how to do that? There are tons of books available at your local library, as well as free information online, and often there are free classes in your community to get you started. Ask around at your local farm and garden shop or call the agriculture office in your state for recommendations.
Our family started gardening on a very small scale seventeen years ago. We went from one pot of tomatoes to now growing a large garden each summer. My children get in on the fun and I know that I’ve taught them a valuable life skill that may come in handy one day – either for fun or out of necessity.