Growing Little Green Thumbs

By Rhonda Bell, Bexar County Master Gardener

May 2023

Gardening is a wonderful activity that benefits children in many ways. Not only does it provide a fun and engaging outdoor activity, gardening can also teach kids valuable skills and lessons that they can carry forward throughout their lives.

Gardening encourages healthy habits by involving physical activity. It also encourages healthy eating habits as kids are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables that they have grown themselves. Kids learn about the life cycle of plants, the importance of pollinators, and the role that plants play in our ecosystem.

Gardening can be a great confidence builder. When kids  see their plants grow and thrive, they feel a sense of accomplishment and pride in their work. Gardening also requires responsibility and commitment. Kids  learn to care for their plants and assume daily duties for making sure  that the plants  have the right amount of water, sunlight, and nutrients to grow.

There are endless educational opportunities for kids while playing in the garden soil. For instance, gardening offers the young gardener lessons about science, math, entomology, and history by  exploring different types of plants, bugs,  and the origins of plants.


When it comes to gardening with kids, it’s important to choose plants that are easy to grow and care for. This will ensure that your child has a positive experience and is able to see the fruits of their labor in a relatively short amount of time. It’s also important to choose plants that are well-suited to your child’s age and abilities. Some good options for younger children include plants that grow quickly and require minimal care, such as radishes or snap peas. For older children, more complex plants like tomatoes or squash, which require more attention but can yield a larger harvest, might be a good choice.


Once the garden is planted, it’s important for kids  to make sure they provide it with proper care and maintenance. This includes watering, weeding, and fertilizing. Younger children might enjoy using a watering can to help water the plants, while older children might be able to help with weeding or applying fertilizer.

One fun idea is to create a garden journal so that your child can track the growth and progress of their plants. Consider suggesting that the young gardener draw pictures of how their plants are progressing at various stages. Consider offering incentives or rewards, such as extra playtime or a special treat, for completing tasks. My kids grew up knowing that a quick way to earn money was to pull weeds in the garden:  we paid for every weed that had the root attached!


As gardeners, we all know harvesting produce is one of the most rewarding aspects of gardening. To make sure your child gets the most out of their harvest, it’s important to know when and how to harvest different types of produce.

Encourage them to help you search for ripe produce, and if age appropriate, let them handle the tools (e.g. scissors or pruning shears) necessary to harvest the fruits and vegetables.

Now that it’s time to enjoy the fruits of their labor, let’s get cooking or preserving. There are many fun and kid-friendly recipes that you can make using your homegrown produce. If there is an abundant crop, now may be a great time to introduce them to canning by making kid-friendly products like jams, jellies, or pickles. Harvesting and using the produce they’ve grown is a great way to reinforce the value of hard work and to help children develop a deeper appreciation for where their food comes from.


Bexar County Master Gardeners ( offers many resources for planning and growing your family garden. Check out the sites below and bookmark them for quick reference:

Vegetable Gardening | BCMG Home (

Children’s Vegetable Garden Program | BCMG Home (

Edible Gardening | BCMG Home (

Photos by Author