Getting kids involved in the garden is easier than most people think – and with a few simple tips and tricks, you may just ‘sow the seeds’ for a lifelong interest in all things green!
Start small and simple
Kids are far more likely to stay focused on a manageable project. A few pots or a small area (a square metre) is the perfect size for beginner gardeners.
Make it theirs
If kids are encouraged to take ownership of their garden, they’re more likely to spend time and effort on it. Help them demarcate the area using pebbles (a ‘pre-garden’ project could be painting the pebbles in different colours), railway sleepers or logs (which make good seats for little people) or low fencing and get them to create a sign for their special space.
Give them the tools
Who doesn’t love a present? A surprise gift of tools (kid sized of course) will get them excited about gardening using their very own equipment.
Speed things up
Most kids have fairly short attention spans, so it’s a good idea to choose seeds or plants that will deliver quick results. And remember, things don’t always go to plan so always plant extra to avoid disappointment.
Mix it up
Planting a variety of seeds or plants will help keep the kids interested. You’ll obviously want to choose plants that are appropriate for the season and your soil type, but some easy-to-grow ideas include sunflowers, lettuces, tomatoes, nasturtiums, potatoes, radishes, herbs and carrots. It’s also fun for children to plant seeds in patterns of their choice, such as their initials.
Record the progress
A good way of holding their interest is to record their garden’s progress using a chart or journal. Help them work out a system which records things like their watering schedule (a good incentive to keep watering!) and how well their garden is growing (for example measuring plants with a ruler).
Expand the circle of interest
Use books, videos, pictures and stories about gardens and gardening to keep the momentum going. Another idea is for children to create a book about their garden project using lots of drawings, comments or photos to make memories.
Eat or cook the harvest
Kids feel an enormous sense of pride and accomplishment when their home-grown produce is used as part of a family meal. Make a big fuss about putting their lettuce into the salad or chopping up their tomatoes for the casserole – it’ll encourage them to continue their good work.
Show it off
Encourage them to take their veggies or herbs (or small pots) to relatives, friends or to school for ‘show and tell’ activities. It’s a great confidence booster, plus it may even inspire others to get their hands dirty too.
Even if it’s not your idea of style, you should encourage your kids to get creative in their gardens such as growing herbs in an old tyre or germinating seeds in a chipped cup. When they’re allowed to let their imaginations run wild, they’re more likely to stay engaged in the garden project.
Find teachable moments
Gardening isn’t just about watching plants grow. Finding moments to teach kids about the whole gardening lifecycle (including the important roles of earthworms, butterflies, water, sun, birds, bees, compost etc) is a good way of holding their interest.
First-hand experience of gardening will help kids understand that the more they put into a garden, the more they will get out of it. Kids who have been involved in the garden in some way are much more likely to spend more time outside in the fresh air, appreciate pretty flowers, tasty veggies, healthy salad ingredients or a lush lawn for playing on.
Ask for help
Once the kids have been involved in the garden and seen the fruits of their labour, they may even be inspired to lend a hand with weeding or mowing your lawn. However, for professional help with your turf, it’s best to talk to the experts in roll-on lawn in Perth, Greenacres Turf Group. As WA’s largest and premier turf farm for residential and commercial lawns, they will provide you with the healthiest, greenest lawn in the street – plus they guarantee that your quality roll-on lawn will be delivered within 18 hours of being cut which is great news for kids (and adults) who are impatient for results! Find them on 08 9525 8822 or visit their website, www.greenacresturfgroup.com.au.