10 ways to encourage young gardeners
Gardening is a fun activity for kids, and a great way to get them interested in eating vegetables.
Words: Jane Wrigglesworth
1. Raised beds are ideal if your soil isn’t up to scratch, and are less work for kids too. Pots are fine, but they dry out quicker than garden beds, and nutrients rapidly leach out of potting mix. They also need constant watering and feeding, which is often too much work and kids can lose interest quickly.
2. Paint your child’s name on the sides of the raised bed in bright colours to create a sense of ownership. If using containers, buy unglazed pots to paint on.
3. Give your kids their own tools, watering can, and gloves.
4. Let them choose their own plants, but it can be good to nudge them in the direction of fast-growing crops like lettuce, radishes, and carrots. Kids are usually enthralled with the magic of making something grow from seed, but bought seedlings are faster.
5. Toddlers, especially, are fascinated with brightly coloured blooms. Choose annuals that grow easily from seed, such as marigolds, cosmos, and sunflowers, and plant them in among your vegetable beds.
6. Grow vegetables and berries that can be picked straight from the plant, such as cherry tomatoes, strawberries, and blueberries.
7. Pumpkins can be fun, especially miniature pumpkins or the whopping Atlantic Giant. You could have a competition between siblings, cousins or the neighbourhood kids to see who can grow the biggest pumpkin.
8. Try a themed garden such as a pizza garden. The plant choice is easy: thyme, basil, oregano, rosemary, tomatoes, capsicum, rocket, etc. Lay the garden out in a pie shape and divide it into sections (or pizza slices) for each group of plants.
9. Encourage your kids to write on their vegetables. Melons, pumpkins, cucumbers, and courgettes are ideal. You gently scratch their names on the skin of the fruit when it’s small. As it grows, their name will grow and expand along with the fruit.
10. Place vegetable seeds you’re direct sowing in patterns, shapes or write your child’s name or first letter with cress or lettuce seeds.