- Gardening with Kids
2nd of may, 2018
Children are curious by nature. They like to learn by doing and they love to play in the dirt. So, what could be better this time of year than introducing them to gardening. Imagine going out to pick your own vegetables or eating strawberries straight from the …vine? Strawberries grow on vines…right? We’re no gardening masters to be honest.
But don’t worry! You don’t need to have the greenest thumb in the world for this to work. Here are a few tricks you can use to get your kids enthusiastic about even a modest little project.
First things first. While it’s a convenient shortcut to buy starters, your children will learn so much more by seeing the growing process as it begins, from seed. The care given to sprouting seeds are a valuable part of the gardening experience. Some of you may remeber setting seeds in egg or milk cartons cut in half. How fascinatingly simple and fun it was. This is the beginning and will quite literally set the seed to your garden.
Second of all, give them Serious Tools! Cheap plastic child’s gardening tools are the worse! They break easily and frustrate the user. Making it hard(er) to motivate a new little gardener. If you have trouble finding good tools for kids you can easily saw the handle shorter on many common gardening tools.
Thirdly, it is okay to cheat a Little. Depending on the age of the child, you may need to help out a little ‘behind the scenes’. Go out in the evening to pick a few slugs off the lettuce, or be the one to run out and move the sprinkler. Remember that they don’t have to know about every little help you offer: the child’s ‘ownership’ of the plot is the main thing. If you get questions just blame the garden fairy… or perhaps a helpful garden gnome?
Last, but not least! Engage them through the entire process, from seed to table. Children learn better when they understand the context of their activity. Besides planting and nurturing their garden, be sure they alone do the harvesting and preparation of their first crop for the table, no matter how modest the offering. Picking strawberry’s to serve up with scoops of ice cream for example! Or radishes in a salad.
Here are three simple but very different crops you should consider starting with:
A must for a child’s garden, plant just one or two, since they take a lot of room. Sunflowers will sprout in one week, become a small seedling in two weeks, and should be 2′ tall in a month. This if anything will be awe-inspiring and teach any child about the power of growing things. In eight weeks, the buds will flower revealing hundreds of seed kernels. They will dry naturally in the late summer sun and their seeds can be roasted for snacks. Remember to save a few for next summers’ planting.
Carrot seeds can be sown directly into soil and prefer cooler temperatures. They can be slow to germinate, so be patient. Carrots will mature in about 60 days. The soil should be free of rocks and easy for the carrot to grow ‘down’. Keep well-watered and thin to every 3″ because crowding will produce foliage but no root. Smaller varieties are recommended, as they’re easier to grow and more fun for your kids to eat.
Homegrown strawberries are full of flavour and freshness. They are perfect for growing in the garden or in containers, especially if you've got children! They'll quickly find that strawberries are one of the easiest and most rewarding plants to grow. There are various choices to make when growing strawberries so choose according to what works best for you and the space you have available.
Upcycle the Sandbox
We do love upcycling ideas and here’s one for your garden. If your children have grown past their sandbox years, consider converting the old sandbox to a garden bed. Of course, a productive garden bed should preferably be in good sunlight so it may be necessary to relocate the sandbox if conditions are not ideal.