Gardening is the second most popular activity (behind walking) in Canada and it’s even more fun if you share it with a child! Sharing the fun of gardening gives you a friend with the same interests and provides a child with a hobby that can last a lifetime. Kids love dirt and are fascinated by what they find while digging, so it's a wonderful opportunity to teach your children about nature and the environment.
It’s never too early to instil a love of gardening and to help grow your child's enthusiasm.
Here are some tips to nurture those little green thumbs:
Two year olds can plant potatoes, and help dig the holes for annuals.
Three year olds can help plant flower and vegetable seeds, water a small container garden and pick a bouquet of flowers.
Five and six year olds may enjoy making labels for their gardens. They can glue the seed packet to cardboard or wood sticks, or they can draw their own pictures.
School-age children can learn about the different plants that grow in your region and help select plants they are interested in.
Older children may enjoy keeping a journal of what they planted and how it went from year to year.
• Keep the plot small and manageable. The most successful gardens are small and easy to care for. Try a raised container or planter to start.
• Let your kids weed, water and plant, and help them to learn to recognize common weeds. Remember, it's easier to pull them after a rain or good soaking.
• Buying child-size gardening tools will help them feel like the garden is really theirs.
• Break up the boring tasks; for example, weed for five minutes and then move onto to another task, such as watering.
• Provide kids a place to dig. There are lots of ways to make gardening fun and creative for kids, just think outside the sand box. For example, design a garden in the shape of a pizza wheel, mix clumps of yellow and red annuals for the cheese and sauce, and create small circles of darker annuals for the pepperoni and use logs for the crust. You could also try planting your child's initials.
• Kids like contrast and color. Easy plants to grow include marigolds, sunflowers, carrots, potatoes, etc. Sunflowers are a great choice as they grow quickly, (instant gratification), and are easy to plant and care for… and they are good to eat and even produce more seeds for the next year.
No matter what you plant, gardening is a terrific way to bring your family together. The key is to allow budding gardeners to plant what they want to grow and get in the dirt.
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