A garden is a classroom for life right? You never stop learning in the garden, it’s messy, its fun. It can be edible, squishy, gritty, and colourful. Gardening with kids is extraordinary fun for both parties in so many ways. With the right amount of patience and a can-do attitude, gardening with kids can create a lifelong passion. A skill that will benefit them for the rest of their life. Who doesn’t like homegrown vegetables or fruit?
I have tried to get my boys onboard at an early age. A fun project I did when my eldest son was 1 was making a little edible garden for him. I even went to the extent of fencing it off thinking it would keep him out of my other veggies – how foolish was I?? Gotta love a naive first time Mum!! He loved cruising around picking parsley eating dirt and smashing snails (Gross!) but still how cool is that? When my second son came along, life was a bit more hectic so I never got around to creating a special space. Instead we all just got amongst the garden boots and all (aka squashed plants and all) My boys are now aged 5 and 3 and I have to say this is a fantastic time to garden. They are a bit more spatially aware and I don’t have to keep checking mouths to see what interesting finds they have put in there – EWW!
As far and sensory stuff goes for kids, getting in the garden and outdoors is off the charts – excitement. Its also special time with Mum, Dad or family no devices involved yes! Not only can you touch, feel and smell but you can taste! Dirt and all sometimes, but they’ve got to build up their immunity somewhere right??
Oh and did I mention the discoveries? Worms, butterflies snails, praying mantis, slaters and many more weird and wonderful insects. The boys love finding snails and throwing them over the fence! (perhaps a new form of organic pest control). Seriously it doesn’t get much more exciting than holding your very own squirming worm in your hand.
So, if you love being outdoors why not spend some time in the garden? I fully encourage you to get your little ones amongst it, this is a learning opportunity not to be missed! Not only will they can learn where their vegetables come from, but what they look & taste like, fresh from the garden. It makes my heart break to think some kids don’t actually know where vegetables and fruit come from. All they are familiar with is processed packaged vegetables or in the form of fast food and that’s all they experience.
Hey don’t panic if you feel completely lost when it comes to gardening. Take this opportunity to get on down to your local community garden. The volunteers there are a wealth of knowledge, ready to help and advise. It could be an opportunity to sponsor/adopt a fruit tree or you could secure your own plot there. That way you have all the guidance you need on hand while engaging in your community.
I think it’s crucial now more so than ever that kids know where their food comes and how it grows. If they don’t value it now, future generations may not have the same opportunities to eat the fresh produce we eat today. Perhaps more subdivisions will fill our fertile land and we will be left having to purchase produce offshore. That is a very scary thought!
Here’s my top 8 ways you can involve your kids in your garden:
- Create and edible garden – include your favourite herbs, some green leafy vegetables, cherry tomatoes perfect for little fingers etc.
- Kids love pulling out plants – sorry veggies ek, might have to work on that one! Show them what a weed is if you dare and let them pull till their heart’s content.
- Take them to the garden centre and let them pick a plant they want to grow. You can talk about what that particular plant needs eg: shade-loving, lots of sunlight and get them to care for the plant.
- Get some vegetables and let them help you plant one. You can talk about the vegetable it will produce and how they might like to eat it.
- Send your kids to the garden and see how many caterpillars or snails they can collect. This of course in mutually beneficial. A great form of pest control and entertaining the kids – everybody wins.
- Need to turn your soil? Get those kids in there, give them a little space and let them get amongst it. What kid doesn’t love getting dirty?
- Watering is such a fun activity for kids and it’s a good excuse to play with the hose.
- Get a worm farm! My boys love checking out the worms and feeding them our food scraps. Check out your local council initiatives. I got mine though a local workshop with the council where you were educated on how to manage your worm farm then you were provided with everything to start your own. I highly recommend this and its great value for money.
Happy Gardening with your kids!