Nearly every piece of parenting advice or women’s magazine champions the benefits of children coupled with gardening. The pressure can sometimes seem overwhelming for parents that have children who show absolutely no interest in growing their own, and would rather be playing with friends. However there are some tricks that can be used to encourage children into the garden and to start a lifelong passion that may just become part of their everyday lives.
1) Start Inside
Growing anything inside is much easier for children especially if they are given the responsibility of a plant on their bedroom window sill. Pick hardy plug plants that don’t mind going without water for a few days, and striking ones that will encourage questions. A Venus fly trap is always a good idea as they see the garden come to life and can treat it like a pet. Any carnivorous plant will do.
2) Make it Instant
Children are impatient by nature so choosing plants that grow quickly will help. Cress is great, as are salad leaves and bedding plants in the summer. Beetroot takes only four weeks from the time of sowing, whereas sunflowers seem to grow before their very eyes.
3) Involve a Pet
If you have a dog, fish, a cat or even a pet mouse, they can be included in the growing process. Grow grass for the dog to play on, catnip for the cat to rub against, corn for a mousey treat or even pond plants for the fish. By introducing the family pet into the equation the child will already have some invested interest and will be more willing.
4) Pick a Favourite Family Member
Growing a plant for a favourite grandma can be much more rewarding for children than growing for the sake of it. Better yet, grow vegetables to give to grandma to cook for a family roast. Have a little chat with family members about the project and have them drop hints as to how much they like broad beans or peas straight from the garden. These are easy to grow and the child will place a lot of pride in the task if they think they can do this all on their own.
5) Use the Garden Play Equipment
If the child has a tree house a Wendy house or a swing set, then bring this into the growing process. Let the child browse through garden catalogues full of climbers, and let them choose what plants they’d like to see growing up their favourite play equipment. This will make the children feel as if they are decorating their own house rather than just helping with mum and dads.
Be prepared to help behind the scenes at first. A child may become disinterested if faced with mountains of weeding and daily watering. A little extra help will go a long way and nothing can replace the look of pure pride they emit when the final result is produced.
This was a guest post from Martina Mercer on behalf on Lavenderworld.co.uk. Lavenderworld provides a wide range of plug plants for the garden and a growing selection of beauty products.