Here are a few tips for getting children interested in gardening and growing their own choice of vegetables.
By Myna Batavia
Whether it’s a child-friendly spot in the garden or a large tub filled with soil, create a place your children can call their own. The benefits of getting kids in the garden are huge, spanning diet, family time, learning and getting into the great outdoors. Gardening offers quality family time, where conversation flows naturally as a parent works shoulder-to-shoulder with the child and is an investment for their future.
Gift kids their own gardening kit
If you want children to get interested in gardening, buy them their very own gardening kit. You will find customised kits especially meant for children. In addition to practicality, go for supplies that are colourful and eye-catching. You can either ask them to pick their own gardening kits or surprise them with gifts. A starter gardening pack for children can include a shovel, a trowel, a hand rake, a hoe and a pair of gardening gloves.
Give them a separate gardening plot
Your kids will be really excited if you give them their own gardening space. Make sure the space is not too large to handle for them. A little area alongside the main garden should be sufficient. You can define the space by putting a fence around it to give them a sense of ownership. If your children are too small, you may have to prepare the soil for them as it can be strenuous. However, encourage them to help you. They won’t enjoy gardening unless they get their hands dirty, literally.
Make the gardening space look interesting
It’s not always easy to grab the attention of kids, so you have to think creatively. You can go for quirky garden decor like stepping stones for the pathway, a colourful fence, cute stakes, etc. While you can help them, ask your children to come up with their own ideas to decorate the little garden space. You can get some ideas from online articles on gardening decor topics. Otherwise, you can always consult a gardening professional.
Put them in charge
Once the gardening spot is set, let your kids decide what kind of plants they want to grow. Tell them which plants are the easiest to take care of. Some of the most low-maintenance plants for kids to grow are radishes, cherry tomatoes, peas, potatoes and carrots. Prior to purchasing the seedlings, make your kids properly aware of the harvesting procedure of the plants. Help them to do some extensive research beforehand.
Think out of the box
Kids get easily bored with any activity they undertake. To keep them hooked, try planting in new ways. Instead of going for long rows, make square boxes. In case of container gardening, pick beautifully decorated pots of various shapes and sizes. You can search for innovatively designed pots in both offline and online shops. If you have enough space available, you can also make a trellis fort for your kids. When the plants grow, help them to understand how to train creepers.
When it’s time for harvesting, encourage them to pick out the vegetables on their own. Make meals with the vegetables they have grown. It’s often observed that children who don’t like to eat vegetables start eating them after growing them in their garden.
Invite their friends
Kids like to do things together. When the initial phase of planting the seeds is done, things can get a bit slow. Pique their interest by inviting their friends. Instead of making gardening seem like a chore, turn it into a fun social activity.
Contrary to the common notion, gardening is a rather simple process. It just requires a little effort and time. Gardening can positively impact the minds of children and adults as well. It teaches them to be responsible and self-confident. Kids who take up gardening form a strong bond with nature. In this digital age where people refrain from any physical activities, gardening gives children an opportunity to be outdoors.
(The writer is Founder, Green Carpet.)