Encouraging children to help out in the garden can give them green fingers for life. Here are our tips for enjoying gardening with kids:
1. Before you begin, make sure your child is wearing old clothing. They will enjoy the experience more if they (and you) aren’t worried about them getting mucky.
2. Paint smooth big and medium sized rock to make fun garden markers.
3. Let your child choose at least one special plant that will be their sole responsibility. If it flourishes, they will get even more satisfaction out of knowing they did it all on their own.
4. Child-sized tool sets, such as this one from Spotty Green Frog, help young children to feel like real gardeners. Mini-watering cans also help protect plants from accidental over-watering.
5. Designate an area in the garden for your child to explore and experiment with growing. Let them dig, make mud pies, or get creative with sand, stones and shells. If you don’t have any outdoor space, help your child to create their own indoor garden or two.
6. As toddlers have short attention spans, keep them interested by coming up with a variety of small tasks. Bug hunting, watering plants, collecting fallen leaves, or decorating plant pots are all activities they can fully involve in with minimal supervision.
7. Buy a selection of seeds that are easy to grow and give (relatively) quick results. Sunflowers, mustard cress, radishes and nigella are all good options. Save one of each seed type so that it can later be compared next to the fully grown plant.
8. Put compost into a large tub so that it is easier for young children to fill pots or containers on their own.
10. Draw or take photographs of each stage of the planting and growing process, then stick them in a scrap book to help your child remember what they have achieved.
11. For the littlest hands, place seeds in a dish or bowl so that they are easier to pick up. This also makes it easier for them to be closely examined.
12. Grow a range of different plants – flowers, vegetables and herbs – so your child can have a complete sensory experience in the garden.