Spring is upon us so there is no better time to get out in the garden and plant some produce to keep you eating good wholesome food throughout the coming months. Gardening is also a great activity to keep the kids busy! Natasha Grogan from The Sage Garden shares her insights on gardening with children and offers some great tips to get you started.
Growing fruit and vegetables with children can be a wonderfully relaxing way to pass the time and it has many great benefits for your kids;
- Encourages good eating through trying food they have grown and have a connection with
- Teaches children about life cycles and where their food comes from
- Teaches patience, respect and responsibility
- Encourages a love and appreciation of nature
- Encourages children to be outside and enjoying physical activity
- Teaches children to deal with disappointment and problem solving techniques when the garden doesn’t go to plan
So how do you get your kids interested in growing their own food?
Grow what they like to eat of course! Fill your space with food that gets your children excited. Strawberries, tomatoes, peas, radishes, once your children see and understand the growing process they will become eager gardeners.
Grow your own herbs –they are easy to grow and let’s face it cost way too much to buy. Herbs are also a great sensory experience for children you can have fun talks about the taste, touch and smell of the different herbs. This year I am planting up three Styrofoam boxes filled with basil, as I discovered my children will eat pesto by the truck load!
Get children to do the work -the fun and the learning comes from the doing. Other plants that are fun to grow are tomatoes, eggplants and capsicums and they love life in a pot. Just make sure it is at least 30cm deep and plant one seedling per pot. These plants will give you a high yield for a small amount of space. They also like to be staked which is another great way to get your children engaged in the process, we paint our garden stakes and tie materials to them to scare away the birds.
Tips on getting your garden started
- Have lots of sun, 6 plus hours a day
- Have the right soil or good quality potting mix if growing in a pot
- Have access to water
- Mulch your veggie beds
- Plant in season, ask your local nursery staff if you have any questions about what you want to plant
- Garden with your children and let them have a go at every part of the process
- Plant what you like to eat
- Enjoy getting dirty, enjoy finding the bugs, you are in nature
And if you have limited outdoor space, a potted garden will serve you well. It is perfect for rentals and provides huge rewards for not too much work. An easy way to embrace sustainability is to grow your food in leftover Styrofoam boxes from your local green grocer. I have grown so much in these from potatoes to lettuce. It’s important to note that all plants going into pots need to be at least 20cm deep, that’s for salad type veg but most will want 30cm deep or more. All pots should have good drainage, so fill the bottom with a handful of stones before planting and always, always use good quality organic potting mix.
So there you have it, gardening with children is incredibly productive and you can still garden with your children if you have little space. Just remember the key to growing any food garden is to have lots of sun (6 plus hours a day), the right soil (or good quality potting mix) and access to water. If you have these the world is your oyster. So go on, pick up a few of your favourite seedlings or seeds and start growing your own food today.