By Emsie Martin
Regardless of whether you have a large erf or just a few pots on the balcony, start a family garden. It’s easy to garden together, resulting in many benefits, not only related to the family, but also all the fresh vegetables and beautiful flowers with which you will be rewarded.
Even before you see any results in the garden, you will already notice the change in your family. It is together time during which family members can joke and chat and everyone experience the benefits attached thereto.
Gardening also is exercise that all of us need daily. When it turns into a great chat session you don’t even watch the time. Research has shown that once you start working in the garden, you seldom spend less than 30 minutes there. This might not be such intensive exercise as jogging or tennis etc., but here you develop fine motor skills and a lot of stretch exercise.
Less stress and a better mood
Gardening is excellent to decrease stress. You are exposed to fresh air, sun and start to relax. You even come into contact with harmless bacteria in the soil that help to release serotonin in the brain.
Nowadays children are inclined to spend more time indoors. Gardening entices everyone to go outside.
All of the above (physical activity, lessening stress and fresh air) can contribute to better sleep. When you have had a good night’s sleep, you will have a better day ahead. It can also improve children’s behaviour and performance in school.
Healthier eating patterns
Children who plant vegetables themselves and see how they grow are more willing to eat vegetables and even merely taste to discover the taste of what the planted and have seen growing. Adults are also more inclined to eat fresh vegetables if they were harvested from their own garden.
Gardening helps teach children responsibility and gives them a feeling of achievement. It is a project where everyone can make a contribution and in so doing strengthen family ties.
Instal a rain water tank if you don’t have one. Make a compost heap. If your space is limited, start with pot plant containers. They will serve as a good introduction for younger members of the family.
Buy some seeds with which to start your vegetable garden and plant everyone’s favourites first, such as carrots, green beans, green peppers, potatoes and tomatoes. Children often become impatient to wait, so let them plant something that will grow quickly, such as radishes, peas or cucumbers.
Take the children along and let them choose the flowers by looking at the pretty pictures on the packets. Or sunflowers that are easy to grow and will be taller than the children when they reach their full height. Decide to create a garden that attracts butterflies. Then you will not only appreciate the lovely flowers, but also enjoy the various butterfly species that visit your garden.
Fruit trees demand a lot of care and it takes years to harvest anything, but strawberries grow easily from seed.
Tasks for the kids
Remember, everyone works together so give each member of the family a small section from which to remove weeds. Depending on the children’s ages, there are also other tasks:
- Gather twigs and leaves
- Sprinkle plant food
- Bring compost from the compost heap
- Water plants
- Rake leaves
- Make small holes for plants or seed
- Harvest fruit and vegetables from the garden
- Cut flowers for the home (explain carefully where they should be cut and how long the stems must be)
- Mow the lawn – but older than 10 years
Whatever your family decides to do, remember to teach your child as you progress. Here you can also have chats about things that bother you and summarily bury them with the compost, to work into your lovely garden later. Enjoy your garden!