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Ep. 117 Gardening with Kids with Elissa Story

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Do you have picture-perfect images of what it could look like to garden with your kids? It doesn’t need to be fancy. Elissa likes to tell people it can be as easy as you want it to be, and your own trial and error will take you far! 

Elissa is wife to Tobin. She is a wetland biologist, and mama to two boys, aged 5.5 years and 3 months. Before having kids, she worked as a wildlife biologist specializing in birds, and then an environmental educator. She grew up competitively horseback riding and now works part-time as a riding instructor and farm/nature teacher for children. Elissa and her family live on a small suburban farm with chickens, horses, a large garden, berry patch, and fruit orchard. They love to travel, mountain bike, ski, rock climb, hike, bikepack, and camp as a family.  

Benefits of Gardening with Kids: 

  • Easy way for kids to learn how to fail 
  • Trail and error can teach them a lot! 
  • They learn how to properly weed and identify plants  
  • Then have to care for something by watering it regularly  
  • Promotes healthy eating 
  • Encourages motor skills 
  • Reduces stress 
  • Teaches patience, resilience and responsibility 
  • Improves mood 
  • Educates about the natural world and biological process 
  • Strengthens family connections 
  • Nurtures self-confidence 
  • Gets you outside, and gets you grounding!  

Types of Gardens: 

  • Container gardens 
  • In-ground gardens 
  • Community gardens 

Some Good Foods to Start With: 

  • Snap peas 
  • Carrots 
  • Kale  
  • Tomatoes – from a start instead of seed  
  • Strawberries – from a start instead of seed (and/or in a hanging pot) 
  • Green onions (can grow in water in a glass by the window) 

Fun Kid-Friendly Tips: 

  • Tomatoes go out after Mother’s Day  
  • Check your growing zone to determine frost dates and when to seed  
  • Give kids spray bottle instead of hose (or small watering can)  
  • Plant large seed size (easy to grab for kids)  
  • Through trial and error learn which plants need sunnier spots, when to leave a sprinkle of seeds, how deep you should seed, etc.  
  • Raised beds are perfect height for little gardeners 
  • When seeding, can use a measuring tape for a visual marker (plus math skills!); Younger kids, you can draw a visual line with your finger  
  • Kids can use popsicle sticks to label veggies/fruit  
  • Kids can use scissors for harvesting  
  • Give them a “yes spot” to dig  

Other Gardening Tips: 

  • Planting native plants to your region requires less water and less artificial fertilizer 
  • Good irrigation system (or neighbours watering) can help if you’re away 
  • Raised beds and/or hardware mesh can help to keep wildlife from eating your food! 
  • You can line beds with metal, depending on the wood 

Book Recommendation: Nature Play at Home


Follow Elissa on IG: @seattlestorys 


Check out KWE’s #patch4apurpose to support 1, or all 8, charities:  

Today’s Host: @adriannaadventures & @laurenrodycheberle from @kidswhoexplore
Production: @kpmediaproductions. Music: @michaelferraro_music