GARDENING WITH KIDS: A PROVEN ROUTE TO A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE
Are you horrified or excited at the thought of starting a children’s garden with your kids?Cell phones, Ipads, and other tech gizmos have stolen from our kids the thrill of climbing trees, making mud pies and catching worms. Click To Tweet
We need to rescue them from their digital addictions and get them outdoors again. This Is a step by step post to give you simple but doable gardening ideas for kids
I am so pleased to have this guest post by Gail of growinghealthykids.co.uk. She passionately believes that kids need to reconnect with nature and that parents should actively seek out ways to do that.
Gardening with kids is probably the last thing on your mind now that it’s October!
It’s getting colder and our minds are turning towards cozy candlelit nights, and hot cocoa.
But if you want your kids to grow up with a love of nature, then NOW is the perfect time to get out there and get the kids started with some outdoor fun in the garden.
If you need to be convinced about the benefits of gardening for kids, read 10 Benefits of Gardening with Kids.
There are so many ways to start gardening with kids and to teach them how to grow their own vegetables.
And, no, you don’t have to turn over your lawn to vegetable beds.
GARDENING IDEAS FOR KIDS
You can get started with a pot on the kitchen windowsill or a pot on the patio outside.
Just helping the kids grow something from a simple seed to something edible or useful is enough to encourage them to grow more.
And kids that grow their own are more likely to eat their own.
Giving your children a sense of ownership and responsibility for their ‘patch’ means they will want to follow through the process and be the first to taste a ripe strawberry or their own grown carrot.
Get more information on starting a vegetable garden here.
STARTING A CHILDREN’S GARDEN
1. Start by planning out your chosen pot or area on paper.
I like to give the kids some gardening seed catalogs to search through but you could have a look around the supermarket at food your kids love (I’ve never found a chicken nugget tree though).
2. Work out what your kids want to grow and let them take charge.
Once you have your pot or patch planned you’re ready to sow.
Begin by sowing seeds like herbs, edible flowers or a vegetable like radish, into your pot or patch.
You can also buy pre-grown plants like strawberries for a quicker harvest.
OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN PLANNING A CHILDREN’S GARDEN
If you live in a home with little or no garden, you can still grow lots in pots.
In fact, seed companies are now growing new varieties of plants, especially for smaller spaces.
Just a little research is all it takes to find varieties for different spaces and areas.
Try to include plants that appeal to the different senses when making your choices :
* Herbs like basil and coriander are easy to grow on a windowsill and can be tasted as well as smelled
* radishes are crunchy and sweet and spicy
* pumpkins take a while to grow but are fascinating to watch the size they grow to. Their flesh, as well as seeds, are edible.
TIPS FOR GARDENING WITH KIDS
MAKE IT A FAMILY AFFAIR
You really don’t need any experience as a gardener to encourage kids to grow stuff in their own garden.
Your children will enjoy the whole thing more if you’re learning together. Make it a family affair!
Your kids will think it’s so much more fun if they discover something they can then teach YOU!
MISTAKES LEAD TO LEARNING
Making mistakes is half the fun and if seeds don’t grow or a mouse eats all your pea shoots IT’S OK!
You can always re-sow. And making mistakes is a brilliant way to learn how to do better the next time.
LET THE KIDS LEAD
The main thing is to let kids take the lead, guide them but don’t try to take over.
Children always perform better when it’s their choice to do something. When they feel in control, it’s hard to dampen their enthusiasm.
So instead of them finding that empty joy of winning a game level, let them experience the glow of joy and pride that comes when they have grown a seed, picked a fruit and eaten it all by themselves.
BENEFITS OF GARDENING FOR KIDS
Kids learn about life cycles, ecosystems and the survival of the fittest.
Gardening is fun, good for you and essential for our kids’ healthy future.
So give it a go and you never know what will come from it!!
GARDENING ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS
Here are a few activities you could try in your backyard to encourage your little seedlings to get out and grow.
Use loo roll tubes inside a pot to sow sweet pea seeds.
You can sow these in March but I’ve found it’s better for us to sow them in October time and give them a little protection over the winter.
That way they can develop strong roots and be all set to flower next year!
Plant Some Fruit
Buy and plant a few strawberry plants or bare root fruit trees over the winter.
Fruit has to be moved in the winter so there is no damage to the fruiting cycle. We grow apples, plums, pears, and strawberries so we wouldn’t be without.
The kids love to pick their own snacks straight from the trees in Autumn
Regrow Kitchen Scraps
Replant waste like carrot tops, garlic shoots, lemon pips, lettuce, and celery leaves
Grow Pea Shoots
Growing peas on the windowsill is a fantastic activity in Winter.
In a pot of soil, sow a single layer of peas over the top of the soil and cover over with 2cm of soil.
Keeping the pot moist in a well – lit place and within a few days they will root and produce shoots.
Once these shoots get to 8-10cm you can chop the tips off and eat them in salads and on sandwiches.
Make Cress Heads
Cress is a fast growing leaf and can be grown without much effort at all.
Kids love to make silly pots with faces on them to sow the cress seeds in onto soil or damp cotton wool. When the leaves start to grow, it looks like hair the kids can shape and cut.
Simply take a few washed yogurt pots and pop in a few pieces of cotton wool.
Then soak it with water and sprinkle thickly with cress seeds.
We like to make faces on the yogurt pots with googly eyes and stickers, so when the cress grows it looks like hair and the kids can give it a haircut.
Plant Bulbs for Spring Color
Planting bulbs is a fantastic activity for smaller children as they are large and easy to handle.
The bulb already contains everything the plant will need to grow a beautiful flower stem so all kids need to do is get it into the ground.
Even if a bulb is planted upside down it will still grow. Bulbs are an almost foolproof gardening activity for kids.
Wildlife is a wonderful and necessary addition to any garden. So as part of having fun outdoors with kids, build a wormery, bug hotel or a bird feeder. Click To Tweet
Collect berries and nuts from the countryside where you live and sow the seeds in pots of soil.
Over the winter they will slowly sprout and if you keep potting them on as they get larger soon you will have trees to replant.
Replace broken or damaged trees so you can help maintain the local wildlife and health of your environment.
Make Seed Bombs and Seed Tapes
Spend some time making seed bombs and seed tapes over the winter ready to plant out in the springtime. Seed bombs are super simple to make.
Take some tissue paper, used drawing paper or old newspaper and shred it into pieces,
Soak it in a bucket of water until it’s mushy and pulpy.
Take some of the mix and shape into a ball in your hand.
Now take your chosen annual seeds or wildflower seeds and pop them in the middle of the mushy paper.
Cover your seeds with more damp paper to cover them and keep them safe.
Dry them out on a radiator until you need them.
Now simply pop one in a hole in the ground and cover with soil and in a few weeks, you’ll have amazing wildflowers.
These are great planted EVERYWHERE, gardens, parks, woods or on roundabouts.
A great activity to brighten your area and sow some lovely seeds.
This quote sums up the benefits of gardening for kids.
A garden is a grand teacher.
It teaches patience and careful watchfulness;
it teaches industry and thrift;
above all, it teaches entire trust.
Do you have any success stories of gardening with kids? Share them in the comments below.
Gail started her blog to help educate and excite families to have adventures in the great outdoors and to learn to connect with nature by growing their own food. Follow her on Pinterest.