C-VILLE Kids! Sow fun: Gardening with your little one

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Few things are more wholesome than children in the garden. Growing plants with your kid has it all: fresh air, science, and life lessons on everything from patience to self-reliance. (Plus, eating dirt is said to boost the immune system.) But how do you actually get your kids gardening?

Grow the fun stuff. Pick crops that are easy to plant and fast, reliable growers. On the veggie side, that means beans, peas, squash, pumpkins, and corn. All of these have large seeds and are easy to spot when they poke out of the ground. If you end up with something edible out of the deal, it’s a bonus. Want to grow flowers with your kids instead? Try the classics: marigolds, zinnias, sunflowers. Or plant starts (seedlings) from a local nursery.

Let the kids have the cool jobs. They’ll love putting seeds in the ground, stomping cabbage worms, and picking cucumbers. Not so much weeding, watering, or staking tomato plants. Keep the more tedious tasks in your own hands.

Keep it safe. No toddlers with pruning shears, grade-schoolers hoeing on 100-degree days, or 12-year-olds tilling. But you knew that.

Emphasize the rewards. After a day of harvesting, share a fresh salad of lettuce and pop-in-your-mouth cherry tomatoes. Let your kid sell bunches of his flowers at the end of the driveway. Freeze some green beans and, next winter, pull them out and talk about how everybody’s hard work paid off.

Consider segregation. If your kid likes helping in your garden this year, give her her own garden (or at least a plot) next year. She can choose her own crops and ask for advice when she needs it. Hey, that’s less watering for you.

 

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Facing the sun

It’s estimated that 80 percent of our lifetime sun exposure is during childhood, so finding the right sunscreen for your little one is vitally important.

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, with protection against both UVA and UVB rays. Always choose water resistant sunscreen. Even if he’s not swimming, your child will likely be sweating. Avoid tanning lotions, and look for sunscreens that are hypoallergenic and fragrance free, particularly if your child has sensitive skin. Try one of these brands to be well-protected.—Laura Ingles

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