March is here - soon it will be time to get your seeds started for this year’s garden!
Many studies have shown a correlation between gardening with children and their awareness of and love for nature - key foundations for later environmental activism.
One study showed an association between interaction with plants during childhood and positive adult values about trees, with the strongest influence related to active gardening. Another showed that after participation in a gardening program, elementary school children showed increased scores on environmental attitude surveys.
Research shows correlations between gardening and many other benefits for children, as well, including nutrition awareness, learning achievements, life skills, health and wellness, and social connections.
Your garden does not have to be elaborate, nor does it even require a yard. If you have the space and time to plant a large garden in the backyard, go for it. If not, a small raised bed will do, or a trellis leaning against a wall for beans to climb, or even a few pots in a sunny spot to grow herbs or tomatoes.
Here’s a good guide for getting started: https://www.americanmeadows.com/vegetable-gardening/start-seeds-indoors. If you want more elaborate advice, try this: https://www.almanac.com/content/starting-seeds-indoors#.
Let your child help poke holes in the bottom of the containers, spoon in the seed-starting mix, and plant the seeds. Together, you can write the names or draw pictures of the vegetables you’re planting, then tape those labels to each container.
Involve your child in watering the seedlings, making sure they have enough light once they sprout, and once they’re sturdy enough, pruning them down to one seedling per container.
If you live in the city (or even if you don’t), and you’re worried about toxins like lead in your soil, make sure you buy clean soil to fill your beds or containers.
After a month and a half or so, after the last possibility of frost, it will be time to re-plant, watch your garden grow, and experience the joy of eating what you planted.