Gardening With Kids
Gardens can be a great place to cultivate a meaningful and fun learning experience for children. It’s a natural match. Gardening can offer children an opportunity to learn the life cycle process, by which plants are grown, as well as responsibility, caretaking, independence, and environmental awareness. Introducing children to gardening is a great way to increase their awareness of where food comes from and the importance of the environment in everyday life.
One of the most important things to determine when starting a garden is the location. Ideally the garden should be placed in an area where it will receive maximum sunlight. It is also important to determine the soil quality of the area and assess what needs to be added to the soil chemistry to maximize growth potential. The soil should be dug six to ten inches. Layering the soil with some kind of organic material will help to strengthen it. Drawing up a plan of the garden is another way to help make the most of the garden’s potential. Tallest plants should be at the north end of the garden, while permanent plants should be on the sides. For those who don’t have a lot of space to garden, containers are another option for growing plants. Containers can be made from materials such as plastic or clay, and must have adequate drainage to avoid root rot. Plants grown in containers should be planted in a ready to use potting soil and watered frequently. Some basic gardening tools to have handy are rakes, hoes, spades, trowels, and watering cans.
Kid-Friendly Gardening Tips
For backyard gardens, a great way to spark a child’s interest is to reserve a small patch of the garden that belongs to the child. A 3×3 area is a great starting point. In this area, the child can decide what will be grown, and have room to experiment without impacting the other plants in the garden. There are child friendly garden tools that should be purchased to ensure the safety of the child gardener. Spades, cultivators, rakes, and hoes can all be bought in child sizes. Kids also enjoy exploring. Turning the garden into a little place of adventure is another great way to get children interested in gardening. Making a fun area such as a teepee or small enclosure and covering it with flowers, vines, or climbing beans can be a fun and special area for children to enjoy. The number one tip to remember when implementing a kid-friendly garden is to keep it fun. When instructing, keep the advice light, fun, and easy to understand.
Plants Kids Love to Grow
When selecting plants to grow with children, it is important to incorporate plants that the children will enjoy growing most. Children enjoy plants that have strong smells, grow quickly, and are easily recognizable. In most cases, selecting plants that have larger seeds are easier for small hands to handle. Sunflower, pea, pumpkin, and squash plants all meet these criteria. Plants that can be snacked on are also fun for children. As the food grows, it can be easily picked, such as snow peas. Lettuce, radishes, and cherry tomatoes grow quickly, which is great for children who tend to have a harder time with patience. Carrots, potatoes, and pumpkins are also fun plants for children to grow because they are easily recognizable. Children are very sensory, and enjoy unique sensory plants. Planting crops that range in textures from fuzzy, rubbery, prickly, and smooth can be very fun for children to experiment with.
Gardening Projects for Kids
Gardening with kids allows for the garden to become a very creative place. Kids love color and gardens can be a very colorful place. Rainbow gardens are a fun theme for children to participate in. Plants that represent the colors of the rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, and indigo) are great teaching tools that are exciting for children to plant. Another enjoyable and popular themed garden activity for children is to create a pizza garden. Organize the crops in a circle, and assign different wedges to represent different ingredients of a pizza. In each wedge, plant crops that can be found on a real pizza such as tomatoes, onions, peppers, garlic, wheat/oats, and colorful representations like marigolds. When the crops are grown, they can be used to make a pizza as a fun and tasty representation of the child’s accomplishment.