Here’s how to spark the magic of gardening in children
Whether you’re new to gardening or have held a long-time love of growing fruit and veges, you may be eager to introduce this interest to the children in your life. For tips on how explore gardening with your young ones, we spoke to Flora Brons, a primary school teacher and creator of Flora Grow, the business she started to show people how fun and simple it is to grow nutritious veges.
Simply put, Flora says to encourage children into the garden and vege patch, make it fun. Let go of your inner control freak! The best way to do this is to either allocate a specific area of the garden for the children or a couple of pots on the deck. That way, if they sprinkle too many seeds, for instance, it doesn’t matter.
The idea is to let the children explore and experiment. How successful the overall result is not important, Flora explains. Gardening offers opportunities to learn important skills such as patience and responsibility. There are many benefits to children learning through creative play in the garden.
Flora’s top tip is to start with a plant that grows quickly. This way it will capture the child’s attention and hold it. She suggests growing rocket microgreens as they germinate within three days of sowing, demonstrating how quickly a brown seed becomes a green plant. Try growing rocket microgreen egg heads. Draw a face on an eggshell and fill with seed-raising mix. Plant the rocket microgreens in the shell and within five days the face will have green hair!
Here's some more great ideas by Flora:
- As potatoes are fast-growing, they easily capture a child’s attention. Why not have a spud in a bucket competition and see who grows the most potatoes and the largest. This is also great too if space at home is limited. Tui’s Potato Food is perfect for filling the bucket in preparation for your potatoes.
- Find some flat stones and use them in the vege patch to label each plant. Have the youngster in your life draw the plant or write its name.
- Strawberries stand out, says Flora, as being the perfect fruit to grow with children. The reward is great come harvest time! Use Tui’s Strawberry Mix to provide the nutrients needed for a healthy crop.
- Here’s another competition idea – grow sunflowers and see who grows the tallest. Prepare the soil with Dalton’s Organic Compost.
- Grow a pollinator-friendly garden using a wildflower mix to encourage bees and monarch butterflies.
For older children say 8 to 11-year-olds, Flora suggests building a teepee tower for growing peas. To build, Flora says to grab five bamboo stakes, each around 1.5 m tall. Secure them together with twine. Ensure one end of the stake is firmly inserted into the ground, with the other end joining the stakes together to form the shape of a teepee. The twine not only secures the stakes together but also provides extra supports for the peas to climb as they grow. Don’t forget to water the peas once you’ve planted them and prepare the soil with compost for a nutrient boost. The peas should be ready to eat in 8 to 10 weeks.
Head online to PGG Wrightson to grab your gardening supplies this season.