Sharing your garden with children can be a rewarding activity for both the child and the adult. Children have such a sense of wonder and seeing them appreciate the growth process is a real pleasure! It helps to renew our sense of reverential fear for the nature and beauty of the land around us.
Gardening with children is a good way to teach children patience, after all gardening is not an activity that offers immediate rewards. Children will learn how to grow plants and will enjoy the thrill of seeing the first sprouts of green sprout through the earth and the rewards of the first harvest.
But what are the best ways to involve children in gardening? It all depends on the age of the children involved. Younger children will be easily distracted, so it is best to start with plants that have a shorter growth period such as bean seeds. Plant them in trays inside or even in a paper cup placed in a sunny window. In no time they will see the green blows that rise across the earth.
Older children can help with standard-sized containers and gardens. Allow them to assist in all stages of gardening from planning to harvest. Work side by side as you prepare the soil and plant the seeds. You can use time as teaching moments – show them how the seeds look, talk about the different growth times of plants, etc. You can also use it as time to explain the cycle of life and death.
Plant a variety of plants such as garden, flowers, herbs and vegetables. Plan your garden so there is always something to collect. If you plant sweet corn, plant one row per week in order to have fresh and delicious corn on the cob for several weeks. Ask your kids what their favorite vegetables are, then plant them and let them take care of that crop.
Try teaching your kids the natural methods of pest control. Explain the benefits of having some insects such as ladybugs and praying mantis in the garden. Many times children mistakenly think that all bugs are bad, this is a good opportunity to teach them about beneficial insects.
You can also go one step further in gardening by teaching your children how to collect seeds for planting next year. Flowers are usually the easiest to obtain seeds. However, you can harvest seeds from vegetables like corn without much trouble. Leave some corn cobs to dry, then throw the corn away and store it in a cool, dry place for planting next year.
As you can see, gardening with children can be an educational experience. In addition, you will develop a stronger bond with your children and they will learn about nature and appreciate more about the origin of their food. Gardening with children is a fully rewarding experience for everyone!
by Piper Cox