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Deploy water guns; foster the next generation of gardeners

So, apparently a fairly high percentage of you gardeners out there got into the habit of growing things as a kid. So says the results of a recently-released Garden-Share survey, which found 37.7 percent of their members started gardening by the age of 10.

The results don’t surprise me, really. After all, the sample set for the survey was professional and recreational gardeners who chose to join a social network set up specifically for those of the green thumb persuasion. You’d expect these folks to be a little more interested in gardening than, say, all the aggregate members of Facebook or whatever.

Garden-Share suggests the survey data shows it’s all that much more important to get kids involved with gardening early. (I suppose, as long as you’re not involving them in World Naked Gardening Day, I can totally get behind this premise.)

The Garden-Share folks provide some handy tips for how to get said kids involved outside:

  • Give them kid-sized tools;
  • Give them toys (or, at least, play areas) in the garden;
  • Give them their very own container to plant;
  • Read them books about gardening (Johnny Appleseed is on the suggestion list); or
  • Tie gardening to school subjects they like (I’m not really sure how this works with toddlers, but hey…if you’ve got a fourth grader who’s all fired up about life sciences, then, well, winning!).

There are two more suggestions that appeal to the I-am-still-a-kid side of me. The first? Plant a rainbow.

No, I know. Those of you who know my cynical side are probably all like, “Um, Genie? Plant a rainbow? You have been in California WAY too long.” And to that I say this: First of all, that I could actually plan out a garden where flowers came up in an orderly fashion in rainbow-colored rows is pretty much impossible. It would take a miracle, and honestly? I’d be as aghast as any little kid if I walked out in my (currently nonexistent) garden and discovered I’d grown something that appeared to have a plan to it.

But still. I’m intrigued by the idea of setting in plants so they create a pattern. I’m the kind of person who would totally try to spell out my kid’s name with tomato plants or something like that. (I would probably fail, but damn…it’d be a delicious experiment.)

The final suggestion, and the one I like the best, is based on the premise that kids (and, come on now adults, you know you love this, too…) love playing with water. The Garden-Share folks suggest having your kid help water the garden…with their water gun.

Please stop now, and imagine the possibility. A hot summer day. Super Soakers. A bunch of kids.

Yeah, I can see how this could be disaster, too, but holy wow…FUN disaster, right?

And I’m in favor of this, as someone who, well, learned exactly how much of a fun disaster gardening can be when I lived in Iowa.

So yeah. This summer? Find yourselves some 10-and-under kids and some water guns, and on a hot dry day in a garden near you, kick off an epic battle. If a couple of zucchini plants get trampled, no matter. It’ll be a blast, and you never know…you might foster the next generation of gardeners.

2 Comments on “Deploy water guns; foster the next generation of gardeners”

  1. #1 Kristina
    on May 19th, 2011 at 7:27 pm

    This idea totally beats what my Mom did. She had a pizza party for my teen brother’s friends and made them pee around the garden to keep out deer.

  2. #2 Karen Davis
    on May 20th, 2011 at 6:35 am

    My neighbor uses a Super Soaker to keep his dogs from eating his tomatoes and barking. His grandkids loves this and have taken to tending the plants because it means they get to play with the soakers. Love it!!

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