Gardening with Children in Mind

By Claire Bickle

Why Children Need to Garden!

When I’m discussing gardening with children in mind, I always point out, “how can we expect the next generation, or even the current one, to care about the environment and the natural world around them if they have no connection to it?”

Knowing where food comes from, how it grows and how to grow it, are essential life skills. Being observant of the environment around you is also very important.

Choosing to garden organically is vital for not only personal health when it comes to growing your own edibles, but for the surrounding environment, soil, and fauna as well.

Knowing, understanding, and teaching the intricacies of the balance within in nature by gardening with biodiversity, habitat, without the use of synthetic chemicals, and preparation and planning in mind are imperative for a healthy garden.

Getting Started

  • Sizing down: When encouraging, involving, and teaching children the joys of gardening, it’s important to give them their own appropriate sized garden tools, gloves, wheelbarrows and working stations (such as potting benches).
  • Getting creative: If you are precious about your garden or utensils, give children their own patch of dirt or selection of pots to do whatever they wish. Let them have free reign – growing creative licence.
  • Keeping active: Children can help with nearly every gardening activity. From garden planning, soil preparation, planting, sowing, mulching, and fertilising, to compost creation, worm farm care and harvesting.
  • Make it fun: Activities don’t have to be all gardening work orientated. There can and should be observation and creative garden activities too!

Children’s Gardening Activities: A-Z

  1. Botany dissection – naming plant and flower parts (petals, leaves, stems, roots etc.)
  2. Cooking the harvest – choosing recipes, measuring, cooking times, cutting = life skills
  3. Create a garden collage from items found in the garden
  4. Create a garden cubby
  5. Draw what you see in the garden – flowers and nature
  6. Flower pressing – for decorating cards or picture making
  7. Bug hunt – see how many insect species frequent your garden (the good and the bad!)
  8. Harvesting – selecting food to eat, from garden to plate
  9. Keep a nature journal – see the change in seasons and changes in nature
  10. Making recycled pots with newspaper, egg cartons and toilet rolls – great for seedlings
  11. Plant ID – identifying plants using books, the internet and family brains trust!
  12. Play in the garden – with no agenda, free reign time!
  13. Potting up plants – either plants that you have grown or new plant purchases
  14. Soil pH test – using pH test kits available from garden centres
  15. Sow seeds – grow your own
  16. Sprouting kitchen scraps: sweet potato, avocado seeds, carrot tops, beetroot, onions
  17. Start their own garden from scratch

Gardening Together

Children and Adults: What else can children be involved with in the garden?

  • Drawing up a few design ideas for certain areas
  • Fertilising
  • Making your own weed tea or compost tea fertiliser
  • Pruning – supervision with pruning maybe be required depending on child’s age
  • Re-potting
  • Seed saving
  • Mulching
  • Seed sowing
  • Start a compost heap
  • Taking cuttings
  • Watering
  • Weeding

Grow Your Own Lunch Box Snacks!

What to grow for your Summer / Autumn lunchboxes

Some of my top picks for childrens’ lunchboxes include organic, healthy and delicious snacks that are easy to grow and easy to harvest.

Top Lunchbox Choices:

  • Beans
  • Capsicum
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Corn
  • Cucamelons
  • Cucumber
  • Herbs assorted
  • Lettuce
  • Rocket

Fruit Ideas:

  • Acerola cherry
  • Blueberries
  • Citrus
  • Dwarf banana trees
  • Low chill stone fruit
  • Passionfruit
  • Rockmelon
  • Strawberries
  • Watermelon

Go forth and garden!

About Claire Bickle

Claire Bickle is a Brisbane based qualified horticulturist with 30 years’ experience. She is passionate about all things horticultural, gardening and sustainability. She is a regular ABC radio presenter, workshop facilitator, educator, writer, speaker and garden tour leader.

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