Gardening with your child
Monday, April 24th, 2017
Gardening is a wonderful activity for children of all ages. It teaches them about nature, it helps them to understand the growth cycle of all living things, and it gets them outdoors in the fresh air. If you have a garden (or even just a patio or balcony with the space for a few pots), encourage your child to join in the gardening with you.
Most children are naturally fascinated to discover where our food comes from. If you possibly can, involve them in every single aspect of growing vegetables; encourage your child to plant seeds and care for them, then help transfer the seedlings outside in a pot, grow bag, raised bed or vegetable patch. Let your child be responsible for regular watering as the vegetables grow, and show them how to attach climbing plants such as tomatoes to stakes to help support their weight. When the vegetables are ripe and ready, pick them with your child, prepare a dish together and eat them! Few activities offer such a full experience of the life cycle, and even if you don’t have the space to grow vegetables outside, you can always grow herbs or cress indoors.
Good vegetables to try: tomatoes, courgettes, peppers, cucumbers, carrots, and beans
Sunflowers are wonderful to watch grow – observe your children’s faces light up as they realise their little tiny plant is growing far taller than they are! As their name suggests, sunflowers thrive best in full sun, after the last frosts of the winter have disappeared. They should ideally be planted against a wall for support. First let your child help prepare the soil by loosening it gently with a garden tiller. Then plant the seeds together at a depth of 1 inch – 3.5 inches, adding a little compost to improve the nutrients of the soil. After that it’s simply a case of watering regularly and watching the little shoot grow, and grow, and grow.
Plant winter bulbs
Planting bulbs in winter helps teach your child about the passing seasons and how spring brings your garden back to life. A fun Christmas time activity is to decorate a plain plant pot with stickers, foam shapes and tinsel, then plant bulbs inside. Water regularly and enjoy the first blooms of spring with hyacinths, daffodils and tulips. Outdoor bulbs could also include snowdrops, crocuses and irises.
Watch them grow!
Children will also love to watch things grow in a window box garden or maybe identify a planting area in your back garden; plant seeds and grow flowers that provide nectar and attract butterflies and insects or plant tomatoes, strawberries, peas or other fruit and veg which are easy to grow and your child will love to taste. Children will feel a strong connection to nature as they have a direct hand in its creation and have watered the plants and watched them grow. It is very rewarding to see the fruits of their endeavours and then enjoy a tasty smoothie! You may wish to be more adventurous and create a ‘wormery’ with your child which can be very simply done with an old plastic recycling box with a lid placed on bricks – drill holes in the bottom and the side, line it with newspaper so the worms don’t fall out and then add a bucket of worm bedding and soil – then you are ready to add worms! Your child will love watching the worms decompose tea bags, banana skins, vegetable peels, coffee grounds etc. but be careful not to overload the box.
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