Introducing your child to gardening at an early age is not only a fantastic way to get them outdoors, but it can also teach them important life skills and values. Gardening has many great physical, mental and emotional benefits for children, helping develop self-esteem levels as well as introducing sustainable living practices into their lives in a fun way.
In this blog post you’ll learn some great tips on how you and your family can make outdoor time together even more engaging by starting up a garden, no matter if it’s big or small. Get ready to work with nature alongside your loved ones – let’s dig in.
It’s tempting to buy a packet of every seed that catches your fancy in the garden centre, but you’ll soon find yourself struggling to keep up with all the potting, watering and planting out. Instead, start small with just a few pots, a raised bed or even a hanging basket. You can increase the amount that you’re growing once you’re happy that you can keep your plants alive. Sunflowers are a great starting point for kids – they look colourful, and do a lot of growing in a short space of time, which keeps impatient children interested.
This slow and steady approach can be great for kids as it allows them to take ownership of their own pots and keep a close eye on them – older children will love watching the progress their little seedlings make day by day. It’s also a great learning opportunity to teach them about germination and how much time and care plants need to grow.
It’s sometimes hard to let kids run amok in the garden and get covered in dirt, especially when you know you’re the one that’s going to be clearing up after them later. But restricting their gardening to neat, tidy little pots takes some of the joy away from gardening. Kids should be encouraged to explore the outdoors in a fun, free (but still safe) way – this will spark a love of nature that will blossom as they grow into adulthood.
As well as plants, kids can help create the more structural features of the garden by making bug houses, ponds and piles of logs for invertebrates. Adding these elements to your garden will encourage your children to keep heading outside to see if they can spot any new inhabitants, as well as teaching them the importance of biodiversity.
It can be really disheartening to see your plants wither and die after you’ve grown them from seed. But most plants won’t thrive on their own – they need some level of input, whether that’s watering or protecting from bugs or weeds. By teaching your kids how to care for their produce properly, you’re increasing their chances of ending up with a beautiful or tasty plant that they’ll be proud of, rather than a limp one that they’d rather ignore. Tasks like weeding and watering can also be a good starting point for kids who don’t see the appeal of waiting for seeds to grow.
There’s nothing more satisfying than eating produce that has been grown and harvested by you – it makes everything taste even better. Plus, it saves money and reduces your reliance on the rising prices in the supermarket.
Kids also tend to enjoy growing fruits and vegetables as the plants provide them with something tangible to eat, rather than just a beautiful view. You may even find that fussy children who won’t eat peas when you put them on their plate will be clamouring to pick their homegrown ones.
Why not give older children their own little vegetable plot or raised planter? They can take the lead on this space and experiment with all their favourite natural foods. Potatoes, carrots and tomatoes are all easy-to-grow crops for kids to start off with.
Gardening is an amazing way to get kids outdoors and to help them understand the natural world around them. It’s also a great opportunity to spend time as a family – so why not start today?