Kids have a lot of things competing for their attention these days, and it can be hard steering them away from the tablets and television, toward an arguably more wholesome pursuit of being outside in nature. It can also be pretty difficult to get children into gardening because ultimately gardening is an exercise in patience, something that kids aren’t so hot on sometimes.
But, it is a beneficial thing getting kids growing their own food or gardening, because the very act of eating something you’ve nurtured links you to your food in a way munching through a salad you picked up at the shops never will. It can teach patience, respect and open small people’s eyes to the bigger environmental ideas in a simple and accessible way – and you get strawberries. Kids love strawberries.
Here are some tips that’ll help get kids growing, but I’d love to hear your own suggestions on what gets those little green fingers gardening. Leave a comment below, and I’ll be sure to add any to a revised list.
GROW WHAT THEY’LL EAT
One of my nieces is obsessed with tomatoes. So what is she encouraged to grow? You guessed it. And to bring more interest she grows them in many shapes and sizes, and many different colors. Yellow, green, black, red, ones that look like little galaxies… Visual stimuli are incredibly important to small people and can have beneficial effects on them too, so bringing bright colors fruits and foliage into their world can only be a good thing.
GROW WHAT GROWS FAST
Time seems such an abstract concept to the small people in my life, so the idea of growing something long and laborious just doesn’t seem to fit into their schedule. They want instant results, and who can blame them, so that’s why corn, sunflowers, and courgettes can be so fantastic for them to grow. Firstly, the seeds are all large and can be handled easily by small hands. Secondly, the plants change from day-to-day, providing a constant change and consequently something that will keep their interest for a while.
GROW SOMETHING THAT LOOKS WEIRD
Children are not bound by reason – they are bonkers. So why not grow something that reinforces this world view. Why can’t you have bluecorn and two-tone courgettes, 1-ton pumpkins and yellow raspberries?! By doing this you’ll be helping the small people think outside the box and not be bound by what you get at the supermarket, those bland repetitious varieties that don’t taste of anything much.
GROW SOMETHING THEY WANT TO GROW
Finally, if you can pique someone’s interest in a simple way, it is by giving them ownership over something. And a little bit of responsibility goes a long way when it comes to children and gardens. If you have space, turn a pot or a small bed over to the micro-gardener in your life, and let them grow whatever they like. Whether it is bloom or bust, it will teach them a thing or two for sure.
Most importantly, don’t despair if the small person in your life doesn’t share the same hobby as you. I wasn’t much into gardening when I was a kid, and now I’m obsessed with it. With encouragement and enthusiasm, you can coax them off the couch and into the flower beds. And that promise of strawberries seems to help too!