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Home Gardening | Involving Children
Home Gardening

  • Gardening benefits families.
    • Vegetables gardens produce a financial savings in the cost of food.
    • Gardens help families strengthen their relationships.
    • Gardens create lasting memories of planting, weeding, harvesting and canning.
    • Gardening is a fitness class - aerobics for all ages. 
    • Gardening requires time, which provides a chance to talk about the day's events, about friends and values and future plans - all valuable topics for parents and kids.  
    • Gardening helps to keep children occupied during summer vacation. 
  • Gardening teaches children.  
    • There is magic in the garden. 
    • Food doesn't grow in tin cans.
    • Valuable traits and life skills are learned, like creativity, responsibility and patience.
    • Children learn the value of hard work.  
    • Children learn about colors and textures and how things grow. 
    • Children can learn about sunlight and how plants use it.  
    • Children learn about soil, fertilizer, and insecticides. 
    • Children enjoy being in nature, observing butterflies, insects, and birds, and what attracts them.  
    • Children are more likely to taste new foods, if they grow them.  
    • Children learn healthy habits as they enjoy fresh food.  
    • Families can take their gardening questions to the Spokane County Extension Office. 

What You Can Do
  •  Plant a Row for the Hungry Campaign invites gardeners to add a row to their gardens and donate the vegetables from it to local food banks.
  • Grow an Environmentally-Friendly Garden.   See "Gardening" under the Environment topic.
  • Offer to plow or till gardens for others in the spring (for free, or for a small fee).

  • Northwest Gardener's Handbook, written by Spokane's master gardeners Pat Munts and Susan Mulvihill, focuses on plants that grow well in the Inland Northwest.  In addition, they talk about fire-resistant plants and how to landscape in a region prone to wildfire, sustainable landscaping practices, and the challenges facing gardeners in our region. 
  • Need advice from an expert about gardening or plants?  Call or visit Spokane County's WSU Master Gardeners program.  This program is staffed by trained volunteers who provide research-based and localized answers to questions about any plant.  Advice is FREE.  Click on their page below.
  • Have your soil tested.  Obtain a soil sample bag from a reputable source, to test for Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), Potassium (K), pH and organic matter.  The cost of a soil test may range from $30-$50.  In Spokane, contact Spokane Conservation District Soil Scientist Eric Choker, (509) 535-7274, ext. 18, or email him at eric-choker@sccd.org. 

  • Start a Seed Lending Library.  There are at least 60 seed lending libraries in 23 states, as of 2013.  It is simple, and free.  If you have seeds, you can grow your own healthy food and feed yourself. 

    The basic is idea is that you plant heirloom seeds.  Let some of the plants go to seed and harvest those seeds to plant the following season.  Home gardeners can save seeds from their tomatoes, lettuce, beans, peas and peppers plants.  Then, return some of these saved seeds to the library for others to borrow the next season, for free. 

    Inquire about placing a seed lending library in our public libraries.   The seeds can be stored inside the drawers of an old-fashioned library card catalog. 

  • Find master gardeners wo teach free classes on organic gardening and seed saving.   Of course, you can also borrow books from the public library on these topics.   http://www.richmondgrowsseeds.org/  “Seed Libraries Help Future Crops,” Diana Alvear, NBC Nightly News, by Brian Williams, March 22, 2013

Gardening with Children

  • Start a garden in a small area, so it will not be overwhelming.  It can be as small or large as you want.  Remember - it doesn't have to be perfect. 

  • Allow children to help select the food to grow. 

  • Start with something that the kids will see as soon as possible - like radishes or beans. 

  • Some of the plants children especially enjoy are cherry tomatoes and peas. 

  • Herbs.  Introduce children to herbs. 

  • Teach children that some plants are poisonous.  They need to know which plants are edible and which ones are not.  
Local Organizations
Additional Resources

Spokane County Extension Office
They will analyze your samples of garden problems and give you environmentally-safe solutions. 
(509) 477-2048

Water Right Polyurethane Garden Hoses
(800) 485-3870
Safe water hoses you can drink out of and water your garden - without consuming toxic chemicals found in other hoses such as lead, bisphenol A (BPA), phthalates, and polyvinyl chloride (PVC).  Garden hoses can expose people (and our pets) to harmful chemicals when we water vegetable gardens or play in a sprinkler.  Water Right uses only drinking water safe polyurethanes that meets both FDA and NSF standards. When the Ecology Center released its garden-hose study results in 2013, Water Right hoses were among those that tested negative for lead. 

Landscape Plants Rated by Deer Resistance