Gardening With Children
My devotion to gardening started when I was young and I watched my Grandma Grace out in her gardens every day. My earliest memories are of summer days making daisy necklaces, hollyhock dolls and bleeding heart ballerinas. My grandmother gave me something growing up which I hope I've passed on to my own children.
When they were younger, we spent countless hours exploring our garden's different herbs and flowers. They would try to guess the different scents of the lemon balm, lavender, anise hyssop and many others. As they have gotten older more time is spent on sports and video games, but my son still finds time to help me choose and plant the annuals in the spring.
If you would like to encourage your children, start when they are very young and their enthusiasm is boundless. Small children and gardens just seem to go together. Make a habit of having them help you for short periods each day. Young children love to mix and dig, so let them blend the potting soil or dig a hole for a new plant. Give them tasks they can accomplish easily. Small successes, so much a part of the gardening experience, have a big impact on a young child's self-esteem.
Never order them to help in the garden, because then it becomes a chore. Always show them how much fun you are having. Present gardening as play and their imagination and creativity will flourish. Children love learning and discovering things for themselves. They will return to the garden again and again when it's fun and interesting. Just remember that a child's attention span is short.
If you have the space, establish a garden bed just for your child. Help them prepare the soil and plant their seeds or plants. Allow them to make their own choices (no matter what they are) but keep in mind that children love fragrance, color (the brighter the better!), and texture. Some good plants are lamb's ears which are soft and woolly, nasturtiums for color and ease of planting, and almost any of the herbs such as the mints or lemon balm, for their wonderful scents. If they are planting seeds, steer them towards flowers and vegetables that grow quickly. Children like to see the fruits of their labor as soon as possible.
A fun project for those with a vegetable garden is to buy a special mold for pumpkins. When the pumpkin is small you put the mold on and it grows into its shape as the season progresses. Another idea is a secret hideaway. Build a string trellis and plant vines that will grow up the strings and form a sheltered place all their own.
Create a garden to attract butterflies and birds. One easy way to start a butterfly garden is to buy one of the shaker cans filled with a special blend of seeds which grow into the flowers that most attract butterflies. All you need to do is prepare the soil, shake out the seeds, and your backyard will become a wonderful place for you and your child to discover nature.
But remember...let them make their own choices. Take them to the nursery
to search through seed packets and flats of flowers for just the right
flower or vegetable for their own special corner of the garden. Allow them
the freedom that they might not have in the rest of their lives. I read
a very insightful observation the other day: A seed planted by a small child
will grow the same as one planted by a Master Gardener; the plant doesn't
know or care. Isn't that the truth?
Find more information on helping your children to enjoy
gardening in the book
Shoots, Buckets and Books: Gardening
Together With Children, by Paperback
- 176 pages (May 1999) Workman Publishing. A remarkably fun and informative introduction to the wonderful world of gardening--and more specifically, gardening with children.
Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Books: Gardening Together With Children, by Paperback - 176 pages (May 1999) Workman Publishing. A remarkably fun and informative introduction to the wonderful world of gardening--and more specifically, gardening with children.
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