Few things are more fun and rewarding than introducing children to the lifelong love of gardening. Not only is it a great way to spend quality time together, but it’s healthy, too. Kids love to eat the delicious fruits and vegetables they helped grow, plus it’s a terrific way to encourage them to get some fresh air and sunshine. Here’s how to get started.

Starter pots for tots

Little kids love to lend a hand in the garden. Plan ahead by purchasing a set of inexpensive plastic gardening tools from the toy department. They’re safe and sized right for little hands. Add a few plastic starter pots — or even create your own by recycling yogurt cups, water bottles or other containers — and you’re ready to go.

Younger children have short attention spans, so it’s a good idea to begin with small plants rather than seeds. Show children how to water the plant each day, and allow them to care for their very own potted plant. A bright flower or strawberry plant is an easy and attractive first project.

Land of the giants

Elementary-aged children will fall in love with their very own “Land of the Giants” garden project. Bigger is better when you are little so promote their interest in growing their own garden by selecting really big varieties of common vegetables and flowers. Great starter seeds include giant sunflowers, tremendous-sized tomatoes and eye-opening peppers. And don’t forget to plant some giant pumpkins for use in pumpkin-carving in the fall.

Zesty salsa garden

Searching for a fun way to spend time with your preteen? Start a zesty salsa container garden. Select a few big, bright containers or adobe-colored pots, then purchase a premixed salsa seed package or create your own unique blend of tomatoes, peppers, onions, cilantro, garlic and other herbs for use in a delicious homemade salsa or as terrific pizza toppings. Use organic gardening methods to instruct children how growing their own food is good for the environment and delicious at the same time.

Creative kitchen garden

Start a small kitchen garden to encourage the creativity and natural curiosity of teens. Learning to cook is never easy, but with a little help from delicious all-natural herbs from your very own kitchen garden, teens will feel like a gourmet chef from day one. It’s a wonderful way to encourage teens to cook healthy meals and avoid fatty fast-food diets. Start with basics like oregano, basil, cilantro, chives and other fundamental fresh herbs.

Wonderful worms and other little helpers

What child can resist a big old earthworm? Teach children about the natural life cycle and eco-friendly gardening by creating a compost bin or small earthworm farm. Not only does it make good use of kitchen and garden scraps but it’s a fun way to introduce children to the benefits of organic gardening and recycling.