Why gardening is a great hobby for kids, and where to begin.
Getting in the garden is not only a practical and fun activity filled with textures, temperatures, fl ora and insects, but it’s also wonderful for children in many more ways too.
AWARENESS OF FOOD SOURCES
If a child has only seen a clean, orange carrot sitting pretty in the vegetable section of the supermarket, why would they think it came from anywhere else? Showing children that vegetables are grown in the ground can be an eye opening experience for them, and it can sow the seed (pun intended) for a lifetime of interest in nutrition and produce.
Soil type, sunlight, shade and the the job of bugs, worms and insects – the factors that come into play when growing a plant is an ideal learning tool about nature, nurture and our environment.
Being outside in fresh air, touching the earth, breathing in oxygen and being active are all fantastic aspects of gardening – and it’s so good for the soul!
The care and diligence involved to have a successful garden provides children with responsibility. If they leave a plant for weeks without taking care of it, there will be consequences and good learnings to be had.
Get the whole family involved in a gardening project, big or small. It teaches our young ones to work together, to be inquisitive, and it opens up lines of family conversation.
WHERE TO START – KINGS PLANT BARN EDUCATOR HELEN PORTER PROVIDES SOME TIPS FOR GETTING CHILDREN STARTED IN THE GARDEN
Herbs need a warm, sunny position to thrive as well as regular watering over the hot summer months. It’s a great idea to grow in pots and containers in a sunny spot near your garden tap, as this makes watering easier. Kids love to see a quick result, so seeing things growing fast keeps them keen and engaged. Think of all the things you can grow to make a home-made pizza: basil, parsley, chives, oregano, and rosemary, these are all great herbs to grow.
The winning formula for growing anything is sun, water, and good soil. Humans thrive with good food and plenty of water – and plants are no different! If you are planting directly into your vegetable garden, use a good soil mix, such as Living Earth Veggie Mix, and if you are planting in containers use a mix specific for the job, such as Kings Container Mix. My favourite vegetables to grow are lettuce, tomatoes, and herbs (in pots), and radish and carrots (sown directly into the ground). Ultimately, it comes down to what your family likes to eat!
With fruit, the soil needs lots of organic matter, such as Kings Organic Compost, to improve your soil structure and drainage. Choose a spot that gets enough sunlight and is easily accessible for watering. The best time to plant a fruit tree is yesterday, so the sooner you start the sooner you will be harvesting. Citrus like mandarin, oranges and lemons are fast-growing, and feijoa, blueberries, strawberries are all fruits that the children can help plant, harvest and of course, eat.