Kids love being outside, especially when they’re little and haven’t discovered things like computer games, music and how to work the television remote. As a parent you’ve probably lost count of the number of times the children have come in from the garden absolutely caked in mud and you reenact one of the washing powder adverts from the TV in an attempt to get the mud and grass stains out of their clothes – and then it’s bathtime!
It shouldn’t be looked at in a completely negative light, however, as we could take advantage of their love for the great outdoors while they’re in the discovery phase of their development. Getting them into gardening at a young age will help them to develop all kinds of important skills that they can take into their teenage and adult lives. Rather than just digging behind the garden shed where they think you can’t see them, or burying a toy in your cherished flower bed; parents could be encouraging them to plant seeds or bulbs in an attempt to teach them about how plants and vegetables grow, subsequently encouraging them to grow their own fruit and vegetables when they get older.
At a young age they’re naturally going to be intrigued by things like insects, fruit, vegetables and flowers and if we can find a way of keeping that interest as they get older it may prove to be highly beneficial to them, their garden and their diets. Teaching youngsters about the value of eating fruit and vegetables will encourage them to avoid the fatty, sugary foods wherever possible and explaining how plants grow from little seeds to what we see sprouting up from the soil will help them in the classroom, especially when they’re old enough to start studying photosynthesis for example.
Planting a tree can be a great way of getting kids involved in the garden, telling them that it’s their responsibility to keep a close eye on it as it grows, to pick any fruits that may grow from it and to ensure that it is well watered. This will teach them to be responsible, and will also give them a feel for growing plants and trees, lets be honest, don’t need a great deal of maintenance! If they enjoy growing their own trees, take it up a notch and encourage them to plant their own vegetables. There’s nothing like growing your own food, heading out into the garden and picking it and then eating it within the hour – it doesn’t get any fresher and it’s the kind of thing you can do all year round.
Another good idea is to make your own compost. This will teach the children to recycle and it will benefit the garden in the long-term, and all you need to do is provide a little bit of manpower. Start by either building or buying a compost bin and start to fill it with the leaves that have fallen from your trees along with any ‘green waste’, which might include dead plants, weeds or lawn cuttings and you can even include food waste such as vegetable skins. Next, add some soil and make sure that you cover it will to keep the warm air inside, only removing it when you have more to add to the bin. Once the bottom of the compost is brown and crumbling, it is ready to use on the garden and before long you’ll have healthy plants growing in optimum conditions.
If you manage to start them young, even if it’s just watering the plants on a daily basis, you might find that they take it upon themselves to water the flowers using their little plastic watering can and before you know it you’ve got thriving flowers, a beautiful garden and kids who love being in the garden.