Gardening for Children
How old is old enough for gardening? I’d say as soon as mud pies become interesting. I was fascinated with watching my mother garden even before I could walk. There is something magical about seeing a seed sprout, a flower bloom or watch a worm wiggling on the ground. That fascination can develop into a healthy respect for nature and the connectedness of all life – including the welfare of the planet itself. Sometimes I wish all our leaders in both the public and private sectors would have to take a course in gardening just to wake up to the wisdom Mother Nature has to teach!
For children, gardening is not only is a teacher of some of the greater lessons of life, but it’s just plain fun and will give kids a project to do that will offer exercise and vitamin D from sunshine. It is an active way to get them out of the house and give them a healthy alternative to indoor technology.
Here are some good plants to grow from seed (or purchased already started from your favorite garden center) that will keep the interest of the young.
Edibles: There’s nothing more fun than growing something you can actually eat!
Flowers: Watching seeds sprout, leaves appear and colorful petals unfurl is a form of magic.
Make your garden fun for kids. Use colorful vinyl, paint wood brilliant hues or cover things with brightly patterned outdoor fabrics. Build with small size in mind, and use safe construction supplies. You can make the whole garden into a wonderland adding swings, tree houses and castles built from recycled materials, designed from plans discovered on the internet or bought ready-made.
Decorate the garden with fast-growing flowers and vegetables like those suggested above. Avoid poisonous plants and those armed with thorns or spines. Use recycled rubber chips rather than concrete or wood chips. They are long-lasting, flexible and add bounce to footing without the danger of hard edges or being toxic if swallowed.
Creating a children’s garden can be fun to build; it brings the kid out of us adults. And children will find a healthy way to have fun that will give them an awareness and practical sensibility that will serve them for a lifetime when they play outdoors in their own garden.