Hi, and welcome to another Wacky Wednesday project – this week it’s gardening with kids.
GARDENING WITH KIDS CAN BE SIMPLE AND CHEAP
Gardening with kids is an easy activity that has so many benefits – for you and the kids.
It doesn’t have to be complicated and difficult. In fact, keeping it simple is the big secret to success.
Gardening with kids doesn’t even require a lot of space. A small pot on the balcony is enough to teach the kids some really important things.
The minimum requirements are something to contain the plants, some soil, and some seeds.
If you want to get a bit more serious about gardening with kids then it’s really good to have child-sized gardening tools and gloves for them to use.
Start by deciding what container to use – it could be a pot, or you could use a larger container. Four-year-old Goddess’s garden is in an old laundry tub while three-year-old Goddess’s garden is in a small recycling crate, but both started with single pots.
Before you invest in seeds or plants, determine where you will place the container and how much sun it will get. If you only have a shady spot available, then you don’t want to buy vegetable seeds as veggies need at least six hours of sun per day to thrive. Shade loving flowering plants would be the go for that aspect.
The Goddess’s started with single, terracotta pots. For extra fun, they put their painted hand and footprints on them and we decorated a bit before starting.
These pots were in full sun so we planted succulents in them. At this point, the oldest was just two so she was only really interested in the water play that goes with watering them.
The younger ones really only want to dig the plants up. At these early ages, kids are testing their tactile world so it’s all about exploring the soil, wood, rocks and feel of the plants.
From ages three to five gardening with kids is more about collecting rocks, bits of wood and bugs. They adore watering at this point and are starting to delight in the process of growing plants as digging and picking flowers becomes more fun.
Check out Wacky Workshops here for some great ideas for using picked flowers.
When the oldest Goddess was three last year I gave her some nasturtium seeds to plant in a pretty purple pot. The plant has gone berserk and she is so delighted with the effect.
She will be even more pleased when I explain we can use the pretty flowers in salads, as they are edible. With this information will come a kitchen lesson in making salads as well as warnings about tasting things you are not sure of – such as berries and mushrooms that could be poisonous. The lessons begin.
Having watched her delight and dedication to caring for her nasturtium every time she visits I decided to give her a proper garden space. I spray painted an old laundry tub and put it in an area easy for her to access.
We then filled the tub with carrot and parsley seeds as well as some cute flowering plants (dianthus).
While she loves the little pretty flowers, it is the seeds that amaze her the most. Every week she pulls out a tiny carrot plant, asks me to wash the tiny carrot (you can see a picture of them in Growing a Veggie Garden) and then eats it – gone in one tiny mouthful! She also grabs small handsful of parsley and eats that, declaring it is so yummy – though the only other green she is prepared to eat is broccoli.
With this little garden, our Goddess is learning a bunch of new skills as well as gaining a love of nature.
Earlier this year her three-year-old cousin gained her own garden space – a small recycling crate spray painted silver. She helped me fill the container with soil and plant some pretty flowering plants.
Soon I will get her to plant some vegetable seeds so she too can enjoy eating her own grown veggies and perhaps have the joy expressed in the Barbara Baker poem above.
As they become older, gardening with kids has even more to offer. From ages five to seven, the young gardeners become interested in construction and design. At this point, we’ll grow things like tomatoes and snow peas that require stakes and frames to grow on.
We’ll decorate the little gardens with home-made crafts such as scarecrows – see 4 Great Halloween Crafts to Make for a great scarecrow craft.
From ages seven to nine we can use garden activities for story telling games. At that age, the kids are right into magic paths and secret places. They will have more input on which plants they would like to grow.
A wonderful craft to do with kids this age is to make treasure rocks and hide them throughout the garden. This idea can be expanded to hide the rocks in playgrounds and parks so other lucky children can find them, spreading the magic and joy. Read more about this at Magical Daydream.
SEVEN REASONS YOU NEED TO BE GARDENING WITH KIDS
- It teaches them responsibility – caring for the plants.
- It gives them self-confidence and a sense of achievement when they can enjoy the food and flowers they have nurtured and grown.
- It gives them a love of nature which means they will grow up to be carers of the world and its environment – you can help them understand the importance of not using lots of fertiliser and pesticides which end up in our water systems and to be water wise and responsible about how much they use.
- They gain an understanding of how things work…plants need sun and water or they will die, weeds can take over and destroy plants, worms are the magic marvels of gardens, and so on.
- They learn patience as they are waiting for their plants to grow.
- It’s an invaluable opportunity to teach kids important things about safety; be sun smart and wear a hat, watch out for snakes in spring and summer, wear gloves to protect your hands from spikes, don’t eat berries and other things unless you are sure they are safe.
- It’s outside fun, away from television and computer screens, which is always good.
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Happy planting, and have a gleeful week, Tamuria.