Learning

Get gardening

Looking for a way to get your kids into the fresh air now summer is here? Try a touch of gardening.

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Getting outdoors is great for children. As well as being a fun pastime, it improves wellbeing, introduces a range of skills from fine motor skills to responsibility, and is the perfect opportunity to teach them about the importance of our environment. The team at sustainable lifestyle store GreenShop* share their tips for getting your kids involved with gardening this spring.

‘Whether you’re growing your own fruit and veg or adding a wildflower patch, exploring your garden is the ideal time to show your kids how important it is for us to take care of our planet.’ says James Partridge from GreenShop.

Give them their own plot

Kids love having their own space and giving them their very own gardening plot encourages their interest in nature. It doesn’t have to be very big — in fact, it’s best to keep it small so they don’t become overwhelmed with the responsibility. And be sure to put a colourful border around it to act as both decoration and as a boundary. Let them choose what kinds of seeds they’d like to plant in their garden bed. Bright, colourful flowers like sunflowers, marigolds, and nasturtiums are all easy to grow for first-time gardeners.

Have a competition

Do your kids still need a bit of convincing? Why not add a little healthy competition? Whether it’s a sunflower race to see whose plant grows the tallest, or a ‘spot the most bees and butterflies’ contest, it will give kids the impetus to try their hand at gardening.

You can put the competition to good use by offering a prize to whoever can pull the most weeds. Just be sure they know the difference between a weed and a cherished plant before they start! Creating a fun competition also gives little ones a great sense of achievement, whether they win or come a close second.

Start a vegetable patch

Growing fruit and vegetables at home encourages children to learn about where their food comes from. They will love sowing seeds, watering young plants and eating the food they have helped to grow.

Start simple: choose easy-to-grow food that doesn’t take a long time to mature, but that your kids already like to eat.

Every member of the family can each pick their favourite vegetable to include in a veg patch, and you can add other easy-to-grow fruits and veggies such as tomatoes, strawberries, and peas. Then enjoy the fruits of your labour by incorporating them into your family meals.

Befriend your local wildlife

Your garden is full of tiny creatures that children will love investigating. So, why not encourage wildlife to visit by creating a garden just for them? Consider planting beebombs: small wildflower seed balls that can be scattered into your soil. No gardening skill is required!

You could also put out bird feeders and insect hotels. You can buy these pre-made or in kits to assemble yourself. But, if you’d really like to get stuck in, consider making your own from bits and pieces around your garden and your home -­ twigs, toilet roll tubes, and empty bottles are all useful to collect for this.

Make a fairy garden

Add a touch of magic and whimsy to your gardening duties by enlisting some little helpers to grow your own fairy garden. These are miniature gardens grown in a plant pot or any other container, especially for small, enchanted friends to live in.

They can be easy to make and are a great way to recycle objects you find around your house. You can recycle various containers such as an old washing- up bowl or even a teacup for your fairy garden. Then add miniature plants like succulents or moss and decorate with shiny stones. Don’t forget the fairy’s house! You can upcycle old jars by decorating them with twigs, moss, and stones before adding a small wooden door. Let your imagination run wild to create the most beautiful fairy house for mini friends.

Create a herb garden

This is an obvious way to teach young children how to grow their own food. Many herbs are easy to grow and have fragrant leaves which kids love sniffing! Encourage children to plant the herbs with you and label them with lollipop sticks so they know what they’re growing. Then, simply cook meals that require fresh herbs as ingredients – your children will be hooked for life.

The easiest herbs to grow are perennial herbs that you can buy in pots – these include rosemary, mint, chives and oregano. Chives are also easy to grow from seed and one of the fastest-growing herbs is cress. A perennial herb is one that keeps growing throughout the year and beyond.

An annual herb will complete its life cycle in a season. If your children are looking for a longer project, try growing annual herbs such as parsley, coriander and basil from seed. These require warmer temperatures than perennial herbs and can bolt (flower) if not watered regularly or given too much sun.

  • GreenShop, based in an eco-build just outside Bisley in Gloucestershire, is a ground-breaking eco-friendly store specialising in organic, fair trade, and ethically sensitive products.

Visit www.greenshop.co.uk

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