By Melodie Veldhuizen
If parents encourage their children from a young age to scrabble in the soil, gardening can become a healthy and satisfying hobby for them to enjoy all their life. Have you ever seen the expression on a child’s face when he has picked or taken something out of the ground that he planted himself?
Gardening together with your children is not really such a huge challenge, even if you as parent are not an experienced gardener. Children will quickly acquire the basic skills, and if they are spurred on by their successful efforts, nothing will curb their enthusiasm.
The benefits that a small garden with especially edible plants hold for children are that it might possibly convince them to eat vegetables to which they normally turn up their tiny noses. In this way they also learn where vegetables come from and how to care for something without too much assistance from your side.
All that young gardeners require, are your guidance, encouragement and enthusiasm, a small spade and rake that small hands can grasp easily, and a small area where they can plant or sow their seeds. If you have enough space, one square metre will suffice. Or else, even pots or other smallish containers will work. Make sure the area is sheltered and sunny with good growth medium such as soil and compost, and effective drainage.
Start with plants that grow easily and quickly. The possibilities are endless. Children love planting vegetables such as salad, spring onions, radishes and carrots, which they can eat raw. Also try experimenting with a herb garden that doesn’t require a lot of space and let them plant thyme, mint and sage cuttings that take root easily. Hardy flowering annuals that will certainly sprout from seed include daisies and cornflowers. Clumsy fingers can even with your help press cuttings from geraniums and fuchsias into the ground and get them to grow.
Be prepared for the possibility of a failed crop due to bad weather, human error or pests and diseases. For a child a failed crop can be quite traumatic. Be there to dry the tears of disappointment, remove the failed crop, prepare the earth once again and help him to start over.
Some more tips for a successful gardening adventure together with your child:
- Be prepared – if you are planting cuttings and seeds in pots inside the home, cover the floor or work surface with paper or plastic to facilitate cleaning up afterwards.
- Take out library books, or consult the Internet about which plants to plant in which season, as well as special tips for taking care of specific plants.
- Allow them to water the plants themselves, but guide them as to when and how much, so that they don’t drown the plants or have them die due to lack of water. This will give them a sense of responsibility.
- Make flags with paper and lollipop or sosatie sticks. Write the name of the plant and the date on which it was planted on it.
- Keep record of the plant’s development by helping your child to photograph it regularly. You could even compile a scrapbook so that he can later look back at what he achieved with pride.
- When at long last he can harvest what he sowed or planted, let him invite friends over to share his success with them. Do some research about easy recipes in which some of this fresh produce can be used. In this way he learns that one can bring the garden into the kitchen.
Enjoy this project with your children. Eventually your entire family will be able to enjoy the fruits of those tiny green fingers with pleasure and pride.
Daily Mail. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/gardening/article-5591677/Little-green-fingers-youngsters-chance-grow-theyll-thrive.html