Kids are too clean these days. They prefer to handle plastic and chrome gadgets instead of dirt and mud. They choose to interact with things virtually instead of in real life. It’s a pity because children have a natural curiosity that could lead them to awareness, and consequently, to caring for the environment.
If you want to involve your kids in gardening, it’s best to start them young. This will give them the satisfaction of watching something grow from their own efforts while understanding the life cycle of things. It’s a great way to establish responsibility and encourage proper nutrition, as well. If you’re wondering how to get them started, here are some practical ways.
Start a seed collection
If they’re already familiar with stories of ordinary-looking beans transforming into giant stalks, or enormous turnips that require a village to harvest, then you’re already off to a good start. Teach your kids that seeds are magical despite their plain looks, and you will soon have them excited to start a collection.
You can observe the plants, fruit, and flowers you come across so that you can identify where their seeds are located. The kids can set aside the seeds they find while eating fruit or vegetables, which can be kept in marked envelopes for future gardening sessions. You can watch an entertaining video together about how seeds turn into plants, and how the wind, gravity, insects, and other factors help to spread them all over the planet.
Grow an indoor vegetable garden
It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a real garden. Many “first” gardens are started indoors, after all. You can begin with kitchen scraps to re-grow just so they can witness how plants are a sustainable food source.
Have some glass jars, small plastic or ceramic containers, and a bit of soil on hand. Show the kids how easy it is to re-grow spring onions, leeks, and scallions by simply putting their root end (the white part) in a jar with some water and leaving it where it’s sunny. Make it their task to refresh the water every week - it will instill in them a sense of responsibility. You can then move on to more difficult veggies to re-plant like cabbage and lettuce, which will require a constantly moistened soil and lots of patience.
Plant and grow colorful things
Once you think your kids are ready to start gardening outdoors, have them pick out the plants and flowers they want to work on. They can choose the seed packets themselves, or select seedlings they prefer from a nursery. Encourage them to pick out colorful plants so they can be part of a brightly colored garden for your kids to enjoy.
Nasturtiums are a good choice because they are easy to plant and can grow flowers fast. They can even thrive in poor soil! Once they grow, your children’s patience and perseverance will be rewarded with bright red, yellow, and orange blooms.
Keep a creature logbook
Nurture your child’s fascination for bugs, snails, and other garden creatures with a journal they can regularly update. They can take pictures of butterflies, birds, caterpillars, grasshoppers, and other regular visitors of your garden, which you can print and have them paste in their logbook. Write down the date and which plants the creatures seem to prefer. This will make them more open to learning about pollination, soil fertilization, decomposition, and the garden creatures’ roles in maintaining a healthy ecosystem.