Gardening at different ages
Kids of all ages like gardening, but what they get out of it changes as they grow older.
Ages 0-3: They’ll enjoy being outside and enjoying the sights, sounds, smells and colours of nature.
Ages 3-4: This is the perfect age for them to help with picking fruit and vegetables, mulching, weeding, catching insects and making mud pies.
Ages 5-7: You can give them their own little patch of garden where they’re in charge of looking after the plants.
Ages 8+: You can now start to involve them in planning the garden, preparing the soil, choosing plants, planting them, caring for and harvesting them.
Remember, keep it fun and keep it simple. As soon as it feels like hard work the kids will lose interest.
Make a garden space just for the kids
Kids love a space they can call their own, so set aside an area just for them. In small spaces, a few pots and containers will be enough. If you have more room, create a raised garden bed, no higher than 40cm. This stops the kids walking on the plants yet still makes everything easy to reach. Remember, raised beds should only be built with hardwoods, never use treated pine as it contains arsenic.
Preparing the garden
Pick your spot and then get the kids to help you weed it before adding some organic matter like compost. This will help the drainage and aeration, which in turn will help better plant growth.
Great plants for kids to grow
Big, brightly coloured flowers and tasty fruit and vegetables are the best choice.
Sunflowers, pansies, violas, marigolds, cherry tomatoes, peas, beans, carrots, strawberries, blueberries and passionfruit are some ideas to get you and the kids started.
Caring for the plants
First, make sure the tools and gloves are the right size for the kids.
Also give them a small watering can or bucket with a pouring spout as watering is one of the simplest but most enjoyable activities for kids in the garden.
Other things the kids can do
There's always plenty for kids to do in the garden while you wait for plants to grow like making compost, starting a worm farm, making a scarecrow, mulching and re-potting—just to name a few.
Keep the kids safe
It’s best to play it safe in the garden when there’s kids around.
You and the kids should wear gloves and a disposable face mask when handling potting mix. A great idea is to garden organically, avoiding the use of any chemicals.
Also make sure there's lots of shade, especially in summer, and always have the kids wear hats and use plenty of sunscreen.
Encourage the kids to look at animals and insects but remember to let them know what is and isn't safe to touch.