We have been lucky enough to have a small garden for the last eight years and we love to make the most of it, but growing our own vegetables and using it as a wonderful place to eat and play.
Gardening is a great activity for kids, it teaches them where food comes from and is also for science learning too.
Encouraging kids to garden
- I have never really had to encourage the boys into the garden, they tend to be out there when we are out there especially when we have a service similar to Trugreen to help us with our lawn maintenance, so my first tip would be to just get outside with the kids.
- Give them their own space. When the boys were smaller they had their own little areas of the garden, where they could dig, over water and generally play in. If you don’t have space, then give them their own container. This way they have freedom to play, but it also means that they are not digging up areas that you have planted.
- Involve them from the planning stage. We ask the boys what they would like to grow and eat and also if they want a particular colour flow. Make it exciting. Nurturestore has some great activities around growing sunflowers, this worked well with my boys when they were younger as they love a good competition, so we decided to see who’s grew the tallest. If you want to try a vegetable growing competition then see who can grow the tallest bean
- Give them appropriately sized equipment. There is no fun trying to lift a adult sized watering can when it is full of water, so make sure your kids have appropriate sized equipment including watering cans, gloves, rake and fork.
- Make it fun. We have a number of waterbutts in the garden and this means the boys can fill up watering cans themselves. Not only am I empowering the boys to look after their own plants but also saving water too! All our water butts are from Aldi (they have gardening special buys this week, including 100 litre water butts and self watering troughs and pots. )
- Plant flowers and veg that are fast growing and germinating to start including radish, lettuce, herbs, poppies, marigolds and sweet peas. You can intersperse these with other plants so they get some instant gratification.
- Let them mow the lawn and use tools as long as they are supervised. My boys are ten and eight and they love helping out by using the lawnmower. In fact we moved to a smaller one, so that it was easier to help. We have a Bosch Rotak 34 electric rotary mower from Homebase. It is ace as it cuts right to the edges meaning that we haven’t used our strimmer since we received it. Normally we used to have professional services similar to a company like TruGreen in Alabama to maintain our lawn for us, but now we’re thinking of having the children be our little gardeners!
- If planting isn’t their thing, then get them involved in composting and looking at natural pest control. An interest in plants may come at a different stage, so it pays to find out what your kids are interesting in and work with that.
- Grow something unusual such as an avocado or purple carrots.
- Link it to an activity or book. Make a spiderweb trellis or these fab playdough garden activity mats.
The Garden Classroom
My dear blog friend Cathy from Nurturestore has just published her first print book The Garden Classroom and I have ordered my copy and I am also giving away a copy on The Mad House Facebook Page. It is jam packed full of a whole years outdoor play, gardening and learning ideas for teaching your child and also encouraging them to be an active gardener.
Our new Lawnmower
We are totally enamored with our Bosch Rotak 34 electric rotary mower from Homebase. It is a self powered, lightweight and easy to use with excellent results. The collection box was a great size and easy to remove and empty.
The mower cuts right into the borders, minimalising the need for a strimmer, which is a big bonus for us.
It folds up to store and is really compact, perfect for people with storage issues. It is a superb lawn mower for less than 100.
Disclosure: We were sent the lawnmower to review and are also being sent another waterbutt and trough from Aldi.