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Gardening and Children: A Fun Activity to Get off the Couch and Into Nature14 June 2011
Children love to garden and getting your children out in the dirt gets them away from the television, the video games and off of the couch. Gardening is an escape, a calming activity where your imagination can blossom. You don’t want your garden project to feel like work, so make it simple and have some fun.
Children want immediate gratification for their work. Choose flowers and vegetables that are hardy and fast growing. While choosing seeds, allow your children to choose what they want to plant, and then in addition purchase some high success rate seeds.
Some great flowers to choose are zinnias, pansies, marigolds and cosmos. Not only do these flowers grow quickly, when picked they flower throughout the summer months. There are so many different choices, even among the four flower types that your garden could be very colorful and tempting to your children.
Good choices for vegetables to grow are lettuce, tomatoes and radishes. Radishes and lettuce will begin to sprout in 3 to 5 days, and tomatoes within a week or two. Cucumbers and zucchini squash are also easy garden growers.
Purchase inexpensive seed starter kits from any large superstore or your local gardening center. Get your seeds planted and get ready for the seedlings to start coming up. Remember to only place one or two seeds in each dirt pod. Too many seeds in one pod will only cause overcrowding and the weaker seedlings to die off. (Before placing the seeds inside the dirt pods, water the compressed pods so that they expand).
Make sure that you keep your seed starter kits moist and in a relatively warm area of the house. You do not need sunshine at first, but once seeds start germinating you will need to place your seed starter kits in a sunny place.
Once you can dig in your backyard, designate an area that is just for your children and the garden project. Start small, maybe five by seven feet, and surround the area with a border. Now start digging. Turn over the soil in your garden area and have your children digging as well. They have spent plenty of time in the sand box and now is the time to put those skills to work.
Show your children how to plant a seedling. Explain that the hole must be big enough to fit the pod and the plant. Let your children try it and let them make mistakes. Gardening is a large part luck anyway and so your children can do very little to mess things up. Create rows if you want or areas for each type of vegetable.
If you surround your garden with the marigold plants that you have hopefully grown, they will act as a natural barrier to pests. Deer and other foraging animals do not like the smell of marigolds and will be less likely to make your garden vegetables dinner.
Visit the garden with your children every day so that you don’t miss anything that is going on. Show children how to carefully water plants so that they remain moist but do not drown. Try to teach your children what a weed is, although the younger ones will not discriminate between dandelions and cosmos.
Once produce is ripe and flowers are at their peak, start picking. Children can harvest the vegetables and pick beautiful bouquets to place around the house. Your children will learn that their hard work has paid off, and they will have enjoyed the time you spent together on your gardening project.