Children’s contact with nature is spontaneous and intuitive. Since children are naturally inclined to go on a journey of discovery and explore small animals, plants, water, and soil, they will take great pleasure in gardening.
Children will marvel at the possibilities that nature offers and closely watch the development of their plantings. Parents can teach their children the life cycle of a plant, proper care, and most importantly, the art of patience.
Even at a young age, they can introduce their children to the joys of gardening by assigning them a vegetable patch in the garden or a flower box on the balcony. With the right tools and varied activities, gardening can be great fun for the whole family.
Be well-equipped first!
Before you jump into gardening with your kids, you should have equipment that is designed for children, that is, adapted to their age and little hands.
For the very young, you should prefer tools made of plastic with rounded edges. And for older kids, you can start investing in sturdier metal tools that will make it easier for them to dig and plant.
For their beginnings, children only need a few basic tools, a shovel, a rake, a pitchfork, a watering can, and a wheelbarrow … It depends on how big the task is; a big garden where they help mom and dad, or maybe just a few pots on the balcony where they grow flowers and herbs?
If you plan to introduce them to gardening, they will certainly need some clothes to protect them from mud and water. You can put on old clothes that are designed for the task, or you can get them clothes that are specifically designed for budding gardeners. An apron or coveralls will protect them from mud, gloves are a must when working with soil (to protect against harmful bacteria), and rubber boots will keep them dry. Also, consider a hat to protect them from the sun’s rays.
Activities for every taste
There are countless activities you can do with your kids in the garden. On sunny summer days, you can help them plant and tend vegetable beds in a vegetable garden, and on colder days, you can do some planting or crafts at home in the warm.
If you are lucky enough to have your very own garden at your disposal, feel free to allocate a small piece of land to your children. A small space will do, and it’s even better if it’s a bit secluded (kids love secret corners!).
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If you want to plant vegetables, provide something that you can easily do with your kids: Radishes, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, beans, or sunflowers. And for flowers, you can plant nasturtiums, marigolds, veches, tulips, poppies, or crocuses, among others. Even better, if they are fascinated by edible flowers such as violets and cuckoo flowers (which you can sprinkle in salads or on desserts). When it’s time to harvest, the kids will be thrilled to see the results of their labor and cook food from the garden with you.
For parents who want to grow small plants on their balcony, there are countless options. One or two flower boxes are enough to create a mini-garden with various salads and herbs (parsley, basil, chives…). Alternatively, you can get a few pots to plant seedlings of cherry tomatoes and other varieties of mini vegetables that taste just as good as the big ones (carrots, eggplants, zucchini, cabbage). It is even possible to easily create hanging plantings with herbs, flowers, or even strawberry plants to save space. Ready-made planting kits (including pots, soil, and seeds) are also a good place to start. Kids will enjoy this type of gardening as much as having their garden!
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If the weather doesn’t invite gardening, other activities can be fun for little ones indoors in the warm. With a little paint, you can decorate clay pots with them or prepare garden signs for future plantings. Crafting a terrarium – a real miniature garden in a glass jar – is also a very simple activity that will delight children. A walk in the woods, even in winter, can be turned into a botanical mission by collecting some leaves and flowers to carefully paste into a herbarium. Collected and dried lavender can be used to make pretty sachets for the closet, and eggshells can serve as pots in which to sow seeds until the next beautiful day. The possibilities are endless, so let your imagination run wild!