There are few things that match the joy of watching children take charge of little projects, and gardening projects are no exception. Set aside a little patch of dirt for your kids to plant seeds and watch things grow. Make sure it is reasonably fertile and in full sun, you don't want to make a starter project so challenging that it generates disillusionment rather than the pride of accomplishment. Stick to annuals. Turn the dirt at a spade's depth early in the spring, to ensure that most of the seeds will germinate. Prepare little starter flats for annuals, if you would like to start some of the plants indoors.

Make sure the little gardeners have child sized gardening utensils: a little watering can, a tiny hoe, gardening gloves, a little rake. For some projects, if the dirt is of good quality, a plastic beach set with a bucket, a watering can, a little rake and a small shovel or spade would suffice.

That being said, unless you are starting seeds indoors (see end of article), wait until the day of last frost has passed. Don't rush to plant before that date, it will be a bummer for the little ones if their first plantings succumb to the frost.

Make sure the ground is moist and finely minced before starting. Take some time with your child to lay out on paper what will be planted where. Use strings or ribbons to separate the areas. Prepare waterproof markers for the new plantings and mark the flowerbeds properly.

Read the instructions together for planting depth and spacing and help out with sowing seeds if asked. After the seedlings emerge, teach the child to thin them out, so that the new plants have plenty of room to develop. Make a habit of walking around the garden with your child and encourage him or her to make daily observations about plant development, water needs or anything else that might apply. Instilling this habit will reap its own reward later, especially if they are starting veggies.

Here is a list of fail proof plants for a child's garden:
- Zinnias: they germinate reliably, grow very fast and have showy flowers. Since children like to pick flowers, zinnias are a great choice: the more you pick, the more they bloom.
- Snapdragons: not very picky about care, as long as they have enough sunlight. They are a favorite play thing.
- Marigolds, or if you want to make it even more interesting, pot marigolds. They are very pretty and easy to grow.
- Sunflowers are always a child's favorite, because they love growing something that's three times their height.
- Anything with large seeds will be easy to handle during planting, and therefore generate more reliable outcomes. Among these, nasturtiums, morning glory and four o'clocks will be great choices. Most of the larger seeds that are somewhat woody benefit from a 24 hour soaking in warm water to ensure faster germination, but they will sprout anyway.
- Try vegetables that are easy to grow and the kids might enjoy, like cucumbers, squash and beans. Make child sized bean tepees so they can reach all the way to the top. Leave an opening at one end, the little shady shelter will be the ultimate summer favorite. Consider adding tiny garden furniture, it will make a great alternative for a tree house. Don't worry about the beans, they'll figure it out.
- Try adding something fragrant of flavorful, like sweet alyssum or basil.
- Add a marker to designate that the area is your child's garden and let them choose what that might be.
- Think about adding a bird bath.
If you want to start the seeds indoors, place the seed starters in a prominent location with plenty of sunlight and a little watering can nearby. Remember, out of sight, out of mind. You would be surprised what four days of neglect can do to small plants. Starting plants indoors is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the proper thinning of seedlings.
Depending how much you want to enforce teaching responsibility, you might need to remind your child about gardening tasks that need done, but remember that this is supposed to be a fun successful project, so if you need to occasionally water it yourself when it doesn't look too happy, or pull out a couple of weeds every now and then(trust me, that is a chore even grown-ups tend to put off), so be it.

Author's Bio: 

Main Areas: Garden Writing; Sustainable Gardening; Homegrown Harvest
Published Books: “Terra Two”; “Generations”
Career Focus: Author; Consummate Gardener;
Affiliation: All Year Garden; The Weekly Gardener; Francis Rosenfeld's Blog

I started blogging in 2010, to share the joy of growing all things green and the beauty of the garden through the seasons. Two garden blogs were born: and, a periodical that followed it one year later. I wanted to assemble an informal compendium of the things I learned from my grandfather, wonderful books, educational websites, and my own experience, in the hope that other people might use it in their own gardening practice.