Gardening with children encourages their interest in nature and enthusiasm early on, and gives them invaluable basic life skills and an understanding of the world around them. Growing their own fruit and vegetables also means that children are less likely to be ‘fussy eaters’ and develop a healthy attitude to eating fruit and vegetables.
So how do you tear kids away from their iPads and get them outdoors? National Children’s Gardening Week is a UK based initiative set up in 2015. It takes place annually in the ‘warm’ half term at the end of May. This means that pretty much throughout the UK they can plant all the popular plants with little fear of weather damage or the need for complicated protective growing.
Gardening does not have to be expensive and you don’t actually need a garden. Just a few pots and tubs will do.
The easiest activity I have found is to grow potatoes with kids. It’s simple, cheap and you are pretty much guaranteed a harvest in late summer. Ensure that you chit your seed potatoes on the window sill before planting them out. This will boost the harvest. They are easy to grow in tubs which makes for easy maintenance and ‘earthing up’. It also means that you don’t get potatoes popping up in your flower beds next year! Children also love discovering the harvest in August. Potatoes can be cooked in some many ways but are always best straight from the plot into the pot.
Strawberries are another easy crop. You can grow them in a range of upcycled containers – old welly boots, colanders, pots and chimney pots. They need little maintenance and are delicious. You can also make new free plants from the runners after fruiting so children learn about propagation. And what child does not like a strawberry?
Seed sowing is another enjoyable gardening activity for all the family. Choose seeds that are easy to handle for younger children. For outdoor gardening success is pretty much guaranteed by sowing runner beans, peas and of course the good old sunflower. Growing plants from seed is rewarding and teaches children about nurturing, resilience and patience – all valuable life skills. Mustard and cress are excellent for growing indoors and get a quick result for the more impatient young gardener!
So why not start planning your garden with the kids for next year’s harvest?
For lots of information on gardening with children, check out my Facebook pages https://www.facebook.com/GerberaDesignsUK and https://www.facebook.com/Gardening4KidsGardeningSchool.