“A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust.”
Your little ones are constantly growing, learning and evolving, every single day of their lives. And children don’t need to be sitting behind a desk or computer screen to learn new skills. Encouraging your children to get their hands dirty in the garden will also help them develop valuable new life skills. After all, what could be more enjoyable than getting dirty, creating their own flowerbeds, and watching things grow?
Gardening is not only a healthy, fun, and fulfilling activity that you and your children can enjoy together, but it will also help your little ones develop new skills and expand their knowledge about the science of growing.
our tips to raising a little urban gardener :
- Start small. You don’t need a large yard to teach your child about gardening. In fact, small and simple is generally better because children are more likely to maintain interest and less likely to become overwhelmed. Plant seeds like herbs and vegetables (coriander, chilly, microgreens, tomatoes, cucumber, fenugreek etc.) in recycled tins placed in a sunny window. Grow a tomato plant in a pot on your kitchen window sill. Use a simple project like these to teach your child about gardening basics, such as healthy soil, sunlight, and water. As your child gains experience and interest, you can graduate to a small vegetable or flower garden.
- Choose high-interest plants. To encourage your child to learn about gardening, let your child help decide which plants to grow, based on his or her interests. Cherry tomatoes make a tasty snack and generally produce fruit earlier than larger tomatoes. Leaf crops, such as lettuce and spinach, grow quickly and can be harvested more than once.
- Let them explore. Every gardener needs a set of high-quality tools and gardening gloves but I would advice against it for our little urban gardeners. Let them make a mess. Let them explore and experience new textures. Let the little messy hands create a lifetime of memories.
- Inculcating good habits. Like many things in life, gardening has as much to do with consistency as with luck or skill. Teach your child to store the tools away after use. Set aside 15 to 20 minutes once or twice a week to tend the garden. Show your child how to pull weeds and water the garden. These experiences offer bite-size lessons in responsibility and organization.
- Let them enjoy the fruits of their labor. Children get firsthand experience of the food cycle when the plants they grew appear on your dinner table. Cook a tasty meal and let your child help prepare it. Make Margherita pizza with tomatoes and basil. Pluck fresh spinach from your garden for a soup or pasta, Adding coriander/parsley to your everyday meals right from the pot (washed of course). Better yet, invite friends to join the feast or give your surplus vegetables to a food bank.
- Visit a farm. Through gardening at home, children begin to understand where their food comes from. A visit to a farm or farmer’s market helps them connect the dots even further and fosters an understanding of and appreciation for the earth and the farmers who work hard to bring us food.
Here is a sneak peek at how beautiful this journey can be!
But before everything remember to enjoy it yourself. If you love it chances are your little one is going to follow right in your footsteps regardless. Starting them young is literally the key to success in this case. As an avid gardener and mother to a 4 year old, there’s nothing more satisfying than watching that spark of enthusiasm in the eyes of your little one as they discover the thrill of planting a seed and watching it grow, the first green shoots jut out of the pot, the first yellow flower to the tomato plant. Watching that flower turn to a green and then ripe red tomato. And although the garden is a wonderful place to encourage the growth of plants, it can also be a great tool for educating these young cultivating minds. Gardening with kids can be tricky in that they require continual stimulation and engagement to keep them interested, regardless of age, but by encouraging an early love for gardening, chances are good that this will continue to grow as they do!
Here is my little darling doing what he loves most. So don’t waste any more time, start now and see the magic unfold!