With the good weather returning now is a good time to encourage children to take an interest in the great outdoors. And to do this you don’t have to step any further than your own back garden.
Devote a small plot in your garden for the kids. Help them to plan and design it, so for instance they could have a flower border with a vegetable patch in the middle. It doesn’t have to be anything complicated, just layer the patch with compost to prepare it whilst you get the seedlings. Plugs are great for little hands to manage, but you can plant seeds in any pot.
Pop the seedlings on a sunny windowsill and encourage the kids to make sure they are well watered. Then when they are tall enough, take them outside during the day for a few days, just to get them used to the change in environment before you plant them in your prepared patch.
Encourage the children to take care of their patch by regularly weeding it and introducing some friendly bugs to get rid of pests, like ladybirds.
Before you know it, you and your children will be enjoying some lovely home grown veg for lunch and the kids will get a great sense of achievement from the fact that they helped to create and grow their own food.
But I don’t have a garden!
It doesn’t really matter if you don’t have a substantial garden in which to grow your fruit and veg. You can pick up pots or window boxes quite easily and kids will love helping you to pick out the seeds for planting.
Tomatoes will happily grow in a large pot and you can train them to grow up a pole – what’s more they make a stunning feature. Just choose a sunny spot for them.
Lettuce, herbs and other small veg can also all be grown in small pots or boxes on a sunny windowsill, so don’t let lack of outdoor space put you off, plants are very versatile and so long as you can a sunny window they’ll be perfectly happy.
Which plants are best for kids to grow?
Well let’s start off with some easy plants that don’t take up too much room and will be a thrill to watch growing!
Sunflowers are brilliant first plants as they are hardy, fast growers and spectacular! Plus the seeds make great bird food or even go well in a salad at home.
If you want to encourage them to eat their greens then what better way than to grow their greens! Children who grow their own tend not be fussy eaters and have a much healthier attitude to food than those who don’t.
So get them some lettuce seeds and easy herbs such as mint or chives that they can nibble away at whenever they like.
Other ways to get kids interested in gardening
By growing their own veg, kids will soon start to realise which are the pests and which are the helpers of the bug world. Ladybirds like to hide away on cold nights so you can provide a home by pushing a blob of plasticine inside a plant pot and then pressing in some hollow sticks to make a home for them.
Secure the pot sideways in your patch and soon the ladybirds will be using it as luxury accommodation whilst they get rid of your pests for you and your children learn about the fascinating world of bugs. Once the plants are big enough, put a bird feeder in the middle of your patch.
The birds will love feasting on the slugs and snails as well as pesky caterpillars and your kids can see all the different types of birds that are attracted to your garden.
There are a number of website initiatives too that aim to get children interested in plants and growing their own. Take a look at Rocket Gardens who provide plant boxes for schools, also Jamie Oliver’s site has a section on kids gardening and the RHS have an information page on helping children to grow their own.