Gardening with children -

Tips for encouraging children to be gardeners

By encouraging children to garden, we are creating the gardeners of the future, hopefully with a life long interest in plants. By starting with small and easy projects, such as growing sunflowers, children will be encouraged to try more complicated things like planting a small flower garden or growing vegetables.

 

Below is a list of ideas to get children started on gardening. Weíll be adding to this list and making pages of plant and gardening projects that children and parents can do together, so check back from time to time and see whatís new.

 

Be enthusiastic about your own garden, and make it full of life and colour. The children will remember it in later years and will hopefully want that for themselves - I know I did!

 

Getting dirty is part of the fun of growing up. It isnít really that important if your children are covered in mud occasionally and it may even give them a sense of accomplishment (ĎLook at me, Iím covered in mud, Iíve been really busyí). If it is important to you, dress them in old clothes or an overall.

 

Digging holes is generally a popular activity. Remember trying to dig to Australia, convinced that you could do it?

Sunflower

Sunflower

Three damselflies over the pond

Three damselflies over the pond

Spend time looking round the garden with your children, whatever the time of year. There is always something amazing to see Ė apart from flowers, there are leaves and berries and many small creatures that share the garden and make their home there.

 

Rather than telling children about something, try to show them. It will be clearer and probably more interesting and easier to remember.

 

Give them some responsibility, like digging out a giant weed or harvesting some fruit or vegetables - it will make them feel important and give them a boost to know that theyíve contributed to the dayís work.

 

Give children a bit of space to call their own and let them decide what to plant in it. They want cabbages with  daffodils and sweet Williams? Thatís fine. Maybe draw the line at bindweed, though.

Grow plants that have interesting seed heads as well as pretty flowers.

 

Encourage the children to feed and water the plants themselves, and to check for pests, but do some extra checking yourself to make sure it has been done and that all is well. This will help to avoid the disappointment of dead or dying plants.

 

Donít worry about things like carrots being planted in straight lines, that can come later. Itís the growing of them that matters at this stage.

 

Explain that once in the ground, plants do better if they are left to grow and not pulled up again.

 

Plant something that will flower in winter, even when itís snowing, so that there is always something interesting to see. Try snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis), Christmas roses (Hellebores) and Sow bread (Cyclamen coum). These will also help to provide food for any bees that wake up in warmer spells of weather.

Nectaroscordum siculum seed heads

Nectaroscordum siculum seed heads

Frog with spawn

Frog with spawn

Make a pond and frogs will come and lay their eggs in the water. Then youíll get hundreds of tadpoles to look at, which will turn into little frogs, and then bigger frogs, that will go about the garden eating pests.

 

Get a compost bin and put all the peelings and green waste in it from the kitchen. Mix it with grass clippings and non-woody prunings from the garden to make a lovely rich compost full of wriggling worms. It will be very good for the soil.

 

Go out on frosty mornings and look at the frost close up. The crystals are fascinating to look at and the ice makes pretty patterns on many things. Even ordinary objects like the garden gate can become beautiful.

Donít just concentrate on the garden but go for a walk in the countryside and see what is happening there. You may find mushrooms growing in the leaves in woodland in autumn or unusual flowers growing in fields of long grass.

 

Many hedgerow shrubs have beautiful flowers and berries that you would never notice if you didnít go and look at them up close and there are some wonderful colours to see in autumn.

 

Go out on misty mornings and look at all the cobwebs which have suddenly become visible. They look as if they are threaded with sparkling jewels.

 

Above all, enjoy being in the garden!

Euonymus europaeus berries

Euonymus europaeus berries in autumn

 

 

 

More Gardening information