Introducing Children to Gardening
Gardening is a fun activity for both parents and their children. Here are a few pointers to help your child discover his green fingers. Children love to play in the mud. Put a child in a garden and in no time he will be digging in the dirt, making mud pies, looking for worms, etc. But gardening can also be an educational experience for your child. He will learn how to connect with his natural surroundings. He will also get a first hand view of the miracle of life. Gardening with your child is also a great bonding experience as it teaches both the child and the parent how to work together. Planning a Garden Before getting started on your garden, some degree of planning is essential. The size and type of garden will depend a lot, on how old your child is. A very young child will probably only be able to look after one plant whereas an older child can handle much more. In addition to age, also take into account your child's skill level and attention span. Does your child have the patience to tend to a plant over the period required for it to grow to maturity? If not, you will have to select a fast growing plant. The next step is to determine how much space you have available to set up your garden. If you live in a house with a backyard or compound, you will be able to devote a patch of land to your garden. If you live in an apartment, your child can still have a garden of his own. He can grow a potted plant or set up a small garden in a tray. Setting up a garden in an apartment is possible and it just requires a little ingenuity. Getting Started Once you have decided on where you want to set up your child's garden and how much space is available, its time to decide what your child can plant. Talk to accomplished gardeners or read up on gardening books. You need to have some idea of how long the selected plant will take to grow. You also need to be informed about the ideal growth conditions for the plant. How much water and fertiliser is necessary, the type of soil required, etc. are all factors to be taken into consideration. Your child also has a say in the garden. After all, it is going to be his creation. Find out what plants he is fond of. Vegetables are one the best options for a child's garden. Most of them are relatively easy to grow. In addition, your child will have the satisfaction of being able to eat something he has nurtured himself. This could also be a chance for you to introduce him to new vegetables or get him to eat those vegetables that he normally shies away from. For flowering plants, your child may pick out a plant from a book. He can decide which ones he likes or the plants he thinks will look good. Be careful though. Some plants release toxic substances to ward off pests, which could also make your child ill. Plants like roses may look and smell beautiful but their stems have sharp thorns, which can hurt your child's delicate fingers. Buying the Equipment Gardening requires some basic equipment. Your child will need gloves to protect his hands. He will also require implements like shovels, rakes, trowels, etc. A young child cannot use the same implements as you. Most gardening stores have a section where they keep implements that are suitable for children. These garden tools will be smaller than those meant for adults. They will also have dulled edges, so that your child does not accidentally hurt himself. Depending on the type of plant chosen, you will have to purchase either seeds or saplings. Seeds are cheaper to purchase and allow your child to experience the wonder of a complete plant growing from a tiny seed. Some plants are difficult to grow from a seed, hence should be purchased as saplings. Saplings cost more that seeds but they are also suitable for young children that may not have the patience to wait for a plant to grow. Gardening is a fun activity for the entire family. A child gets to spend time with his parents and is allowed to play in the mud. At the same time, gardening also teaches him how life begins and how to live in peace with nature.