Monday, May 26, 2008

Gardening with Children

I believe that growing a garden is a valuable experience for children. Do you have a patch of earth that can be transformed into a wild fruit and vegetable garden? If so please read on…

Kids’ Garden Project

Children love to get involved in a project that literally grows as they do. Gardening offers a valuable opportunity for us to nourish a patch of dirt with manure, sunlight, water and time to make it fertile enough to sustain plant life.

The hands-on approach to learning I encourage is an ideal teaching method for children to understand experientially the nature of nature.

We can grow a vegetable garden including food kids love to eat such as passionfruit, corn, peas, lettuce, carrots and tomatoes. This list is variable according to season and to include the fruit and vegetables that the particular children involved nominate as their preference. Growing a vegetable garden is also a fun way to learn about nutrition, especially when kids can eat what they have grown themselves.

I prefer to work with teams of up to five children so each receives adequate attention and supervision.

Some Ideas:
Herb seedlings planted in shapes of letters that spell a child’s name.
Care of plants such as watering can be incorporated into a daily routine.
A garden diary documenting changes that are observed as plants grow.

I provide all necessary equipment including kids-sized gloves and aprons as well as plants, soil and manure. Please feel free to email me to discuss further details.

The Growing Process

1. Survey the site. Weed and dig over the soil. Is it fertile? Is it sandy or clay soil? What kinds of plants grow nearby? How much sunlight does our patch of soil receive? How much moisture is retained by the soil? Where does rainfall drain?

2. Measure the size of the plot in order to draw an accurate map and calculate plant
numbers, position and how much manure is required. Locate the nearest tap and a

3. Prepare the soil. Add manure and aerate the soil to enable healthy root growth. What happens beneath the ground is very important for plants to thrive. Remove any weeds and rocks from the garden bed. Construct a retaining wall if needed.

4. Design the garden. Which plants should go where? Draw a map of the garden we want to grow. Include height, size and shape of plants and colours of flowers. When do flowers bloom? How quickly do we expect them to grow? How much water will they need?

5. Plant the garden. Using kids sized tools and delicate seedlings children learn about planting so that roots are submerged and the base of stems sit flush with the soil level. Plants are spaced so that there is room for them to grow. This is followed by gently watering the plants.

6. Bug control. Snails and slugs favourite food is tender new plants so we devise a way to overcome this problem with snail pellets or traps.

7. Caring for plants. Draw up a calendar that shows us what to expect to happen as our garden matures. When will the vine bear fruit? When will the carrots be ready to eat? Regular watering is essential and is preferably done early in the day.

8. Enjoy your new garden and eat a fresh supply of fruit and vegetables.