Gardening For Children: Tips For Developing This Healthy Hobby For A Lifetime
Gardening is a hobby that is jam-packed with benefits to one’s health no matter the age or level of experience. This is an activity that builds both one’s physical and mental health and it is a wonderful hobby for children to do. For those hoping to get their kid engaged in gardening, there are some tips that can set the stage for success and help to make this a lifelong passion.
Eartheasy notes that this is a hobby that feeds a child’s natural curiosity and desire to get dirty and play outdoors. Gardening provides numerous valuable lessons and life skills and is a wonderful way to stimulate the brain. When kids are involved in the gardening process from start to finish, from planting the seeds to harvesting and enjoying what they’ve produced, they develop a sense of pride.
Let kids garden in their own way with no expectations of perfection
While kids can successfully garden in a number of settings, like a home garden or an urban garden, it can be helpful to provide them with raised beds for easy access. It may be tempting to give them kid gardening tools to use, but those won’t typically hold up to real gardening. Instead, suggests Kids Gardening, use real tools that will be sturdy enough for the intensive use that kids will give them. Hand trowels can be a solid go-to tool to use as they are typically safe but sturdy.
Rodale’s Organic Life notes that when it comes to gardening for children, it is important to let kids enjoy the experience and let go of any quests for perfection. The benefits of gardening come from the process of digging in the dirt and all that comes along with the experience rather than simply the end result. This is a hobby that has a lot of leeway in most respects so try to stand back and let children do things their way as much as possible.
Gardening develops beneficial skills in kids
Gardening helps develop a number of positive attributes in kids. It stimulates the brain and helps children learn patience and problem-solving skills. In addition, when done with classmates, siblings, or friends, kids learn a lot about cooperation and teamwork while gardening. This is a hobby that provides a solid exercise opportunity, but there are significant mental health benefits too.
PBS shares that this is an activity that builds responsibility and a sense of purpose in children and it is shown to improve moods and decrease stress and anxiety. Psychology Today adds that gardening helps people of all ages relax and it works to develop a nurturing nature in people. Even children experience stress and depression, and gardening provides a wonderful outlet to reduce anxiety, depression, and stress levels.
Chose plants that will be easy and quick to grow
When deciding what to plan in a garden with children, consider things that grow quickly and are sturdy and forgiving. For example, one or two sunflowers can be a great addition to a child’s garden and vegetables like lettuce, snow peas, and cherry tomatoes work well too. Choose plants that will spark your child’s excitement early on and watch their love for gardening grow.
While gardening is a fantastic hobby for people young and old alike, it can be a particularly beneficial activity for children to embrace. It stimulates the brain and gets kids moving, and it is great for their mental health as well. Gardens don’t have to be extensive or fancy to capture a child’s interest and a few simple materials can get a family started on a hobby that can last a lifetime.
Gardening for kids can be a wondrous event. Children love to see something they planted in their very own “child garden” grow, and then produce something great to eat that looks nothing like the original little seed or plant. Come to think of it, adult gardeners revel in that experience too!
If you have a large traditional single row vegetable garden already established, just section off a small portion of it for your child.
The size bed recommended by Square Foot Gardening for a child’s garden is 3′ X 3′. Square foot gardening utilizes raised garden beds with the addition of square foot grids over beds as a visual aid. An intensive gardening technique that focuses on organic gardening methods, a square foot garden might be just the thing for your child’s first garden.
You could even create a “carry along” garden, which is just a square box, small enough to move from place to place (for example out of a storm.) Instead of amending your existing soil, you create “new” soil for your square foot bed. You can read all about square foot gardening at www.squarefootgardening.com.
Aside from container gardening, square foot gardening is the easiest method, since unlike traditional raised beds, the new square foot gardening technique does not call for digging or amending the soil below the bed. According to the revised Square Foot Gardening, simply put down newspaper or cardboard under your bed, wet the newspaper, and then fill the box with new soil. This will help keep weeds out. You could even put plyboard on the bottom with holes drilled in it.
A perfect soil helps create healthier plants. So give your child’s first garden the best chance of success by making sure the soil you begin with is optimum. You can amend your own soil with peat moss and compost, or buy packaged soil mixes. Remember to steer clear of chemical fertilizers or pesticides.
I also recommend heirloom variety seeds and plants for children, not hybrid varieties. You may want to teach your children how to save seeds to use next year, and you cannot do that if the plant is a hybrid.
You have many options for raised beds these days. You can buy raised bed garden kits online that require no nails or tools (For example, see www.bluegrassgardenbeds.com.)
You could use bricks, concrete or wood for your raised garden bed. Do not use treated wood since chemicals may leach into the soil.