Armed only with a few simple garden tools, some seedlings or seeds and their beautiful little imaginations, the humble back garden can really kick-start a love of gardening in young children. Even if you have no garden or very little space there are activities that you can undertake that are fun, cheap and thrill kids.
And by helping them mix the practical with the magical, you can assist in forming an ongoing connection with your children and Mother Nature. Help them find dragons, fairies and trolls everywhere!
Here are some of the things that I have enjoyed with my children:
Visit a nursery. They are fascinating place for children. My kids particularly enjoy the “stinky” section containing manure and fertilizers – go figure!
Visit your local Botanic Garden. With open spaces and so many interesting plants and interactive displays, botanic gardens and parks are the perfect place to run around, fly a kite, have a pony ride, enjoy a picnic, chase birds, lie under a tree and get close up and personal with some truly awesome plants. Botanic gardens, in particular, offer some excellent educational programmes for young children. They play a critical role in educating the public on issues such as sustainability, biodiversity, combating climate change and loss of plant habitats. Given that our children are being exposed to these issues more often, a visit to a Botanic Garden can really help them begin to understand these important issues.
Start a vegetable patch. It doesn’t matter whether you have a vast back garden or no space at all. A few pots or some recycled toys (such as an old Tonka Truck) on a back verandah are all that’s needed to grow herbs, edible flowers and simple vegetables and fruits such as beans and tomatoes. Remember to start simple and choose fast growing varieties to avoid disappointment. Rocket is a perfect choice. Aptly named it will shoot from seed or seedling so fast, children love watching it grow. They should be able to harvest their first leaf within 2-4 weeks.
Make weeding, raking, pruning and watering the garden fun for children by giving them their own set of tools. Watering is an all time favourite in our house, particularly when you can water yourself at the same time…