What parent with a love for gardening and spending time outdoors would not like to encourage green fingers in their children, too? My grandfather’s love for his vegetable patch is probably what motivated me to start gardening later on in life. While we spent hours in the garden together, my granddad took the time to explain how different vegetables are grown, when they are supposed to be planted, and what care each individual plant needs. He also pointed out the beauty of different flowers, and the busy hub of life that they were. That garden was home to ants, butterflies, bees, and sometimes hedgehogs and other mammals too.
Plenty of lessons to be found in your green patch
As a work-at-home mother of two, it is appealing to use gardening – which is both exhausting and relaxing – as a way to get in that precious “me time” that mums talk about so often. When the weather is good, and especially if you have some sprinklers running, kids will entertain themselves in the garden for hours on end, leaving the parent to enjoy their hobby. My garden helped me with weight loss after pregnancy, and my younger child spent lots of time napping beside me in the summer sun while I worked the earth. But what if you could use your time in the garden to teach your kids? There are plenty of lessons to be found in your green patch: from biology to environmental awareness, and from patience to perseverance. The question is how?
Let them have their own space to grow vegetables or flowers
To start with, offer your child or children their own space to grow vegetables or flowers of their choice. Equip them with their own, child-sized, gardening tools and teach them how to use them. Because having a successful garden takes experimentation and often learning through failure, it’s beneficial to allow your children to do their own thing in their part of the garden. Perhaps the ideas from appeal to many children, because those wooden boxes look great and allow many different crops to be grown in only a tiny space. Unusual vegetables like green tomatoes, or blue potatoes, also spice things up.
Ask your little ones to help you out
In the meantime, you can ask your little ones to help you out while you do your work too! Ask them to identify weeds that need removing, and have them hand you the tools you need. Once they’re more experienced, they will know what you require without you pointing it out. You may think that kids don’t like helping in the garden – I did! – but they may surprise you. My daughter hardly ever picks up after herself, but is always happy to assist me in the garden and also in the kitchen… as long as the meal includes our own produce.
If digging in the dirt is not exciting enough for your children (which I seriously doubt), consider making a tree house or a bird house or concentrate on growing produce that can be used in dyes. Any spinner and knitter knows that onions and black beans can be used to make yarn more colorful, for instance. There are many other things that can keep kids occupied in the garden: here is a list of top 10 fun activities for the whole family to enjoy.
Can you still instill a love for plants and gardening in your children if you live in an apartment? Sure! Even though we do have a garden, we still grow herbs indoors for quick and easy access. Most of these, like thyme, mint, or chives are not difficult to grow indoors. Mint also helps combat the toughest of pregnancy signs and symptoms (for foodies like me, at least) – morning sickness. Some people go beyond growing herbs indoors, and care for tomatoes and peanuts in their apartment.