Plant a Children's Garden This Spring

My three-year-old daughter wants a garden.

Last summer, she loved helping me water the flowers, and it was a special treat to pick one. (Although, she was just as happy with a dandelion out of the lawn.) This year, she wants to grow her own. The more I think about it, the more excited I am to plant a children's garden.

I don't have a green thumb. But even if the project fails, the basic materials are simple and inexpensive: Seeds, dirt, and water. And, I am not above sneaking out to the garden center one evening for some imposters, if we end up killing everything. Here's my plan for planting a children's garden, plus eight gardening activities your kids will enjoy.

Why plant a children's garden?

If she has her own garden, my daughter will be out in the sunshine, enjoying nature while she learns how it works. The project will last all summer, unlike a trip to an amusement park. And she will have to be patient while her garden is growing.

As my daughter helps water and weed her plants, she'll learn responsibility. She will also learn how to care for something besides herself. And I can't wait to see the smile on her face when her flowers bloom.

Where to plant?

You can plant a children's garden without a flower bed, or even a yard. A long planter on your porch or deck, or a couple big pots inside, are almost as much fun. Check at a garden center to see what kind of plants grow best in the containers you will use. We're going to plant our children's garden in a small flower bed beside the garage.

What to plant?

Pint-sized gardeners do best with plants that have large seeds, sprout quickly, and grow fast. Avoid plants that are fragile, prone to pests, and have thorns. Don't plant anything that is poisonous when eaten, since your kids may not care whether it's meant to be salad.

Besides flowers, your children's garden can include foods your child likes to eat, such as beans, tomatoes, strawberries, or pumpkins. (Okay, kids don't like to eat pumpkin. But they'll like having one for Halloween.) Of course, you have to pick plants that will grow well in your space and light.

Beans have large, fast-sprouting seeds, as do sunflowers. And both are very tough. Kids like to grow big things, …