Plant Power!: A Guide to Developing Your Kid’s Green Thumb
It’s quite likely that you heard the words “you get what you give” or “ you reap what you sow” from your parents. For adults, those words can often represent the reality of everyday life and can affect whether or not they’re able to bring food to the table at the end of each day. However, when you’re a child, it’s not always easy for you to understand the concept of causality. This is probably because you’re likely to have your needs and desires tended to by adults regardless of what you do or how you behave. This is why gardening is such a valuable activity in the lives of young children.
In other areas of life, children get instant gratification from playing games on phones or maybe they get well-deserved merits and stars for their homework from their teachers. Still, the sight of a flower blossoming after your child has cared for it or the joy of harvesting fruits that they get to eat can ignite confidence and also help them appreciate life, nature and the results of working hard for something important. In early childhood years especially, being witness to life development in this way can be nothing short of miraculous. This fruitful activity can spark a child’s curiosity about the beauty of life and nature while encouraging a liberating life outdoors in a world where we’re constantly fixated on phone screens and laptops.
With this in mind, we’ve written down this guide to help you help your child with developing their green thumb. While you read through this guide, try to remind yourself that gardening will be as much of a rewarding experience for you as it will be for your child. Perhaps you don’t have much of a green thumb yourself, or maybe you do, but you’re struggling to find ways to include and encourage your child in this activity. Whatever the case may be, gardening with your little one can be a great bonding experience that also helps your escape from the common stresses of work.
Choosing the right plants
Offering your child the ability to be in charge is a great way to give them the motivation they need to start the process. One way to do this is by asking them what kinds of plants they’d want to grow. Remind them that they have choices between decorative flowers and plants that produce edible foods. Once they’ve given you options, look at which plant is most feasible for your home.
Note that gardening is not just for people with big yards. Even with a small apartment or home, you can opt to grow plants that will grow well in pots or garden beds. Offering your kid a pot plant or garden bed can provide much more focus for your child and will be less overwhelming than having them tend to a very big garden.
As they develop their gardening skills and the fruits of their labour show, you can make them responsible for another bed or part of the garden. This can slowly develop their self-esteem and give them the confidence to independently work the garden with time.
While gardening can offer necessary lessons about success and failure, create more room for success by opting for plants that grow well in your garden. Petunias, which may attract your child with their bright and vivid colours, are low-maintenance flowers that tolerate hot climates and can usually be watered once a week. Potato plants grow best in cooler climates and when they’re ready for harvest, they double as a fun treasure hunt when your kid has to dig them up
Show your kid the video below, for options to choose from
Start from Seed
There is absolutely nothing wrong with buying plants from a nursery and continuing to grow and nurture them from home, but growing a plant from seed is likely to be a more exhilarating experience for kids. Although it may be more challenging depending on the plant you’re going to grow, the rewards are certainly worth it. At this stage, it’s a fun idea to document the process by taking pictures of the seed to plant process so your child can be proud and show it off to friends and family members. Knowing that their plant started as a mere seed inside the home and is now flourishing outside will be a proud moment for your child.
This stage is also an opportune time to teach kids about not wasting by recycling and reusing items that might have been thrown away. Use safe food containers to grow your seeds. Starting your seeds in egg cartons, eggshells, baby food jars, coffee cups, or salad containers can be an inexpensive option instead of buying pots plants that your flowers may grow out of.
Check out this video for how to grow a seed in a cup.
Give them a circle of life lesson
You don’t have to bring out your Mufasa voice and go all Lion King on them, but a practical place to start is telling them about composting. Educating your little one about how different materials break down to create food for the soil and the role that insects and worms play in the ecosystem give your child an appreciation for how the environment works.
At the same time, you will be reducing the amount of waste you produce in your home and encouraging eco-friendly behaviour from your child. Show your kid this video of our favourite piglet for easy advice on composting.
Eat what you grow
Gardening is also a smart way to get your kids to eat their fruits and vegetables. Include them whenever it’s harvesting time and encourage them to make salad dishes and other meals using their crops. Consider starting a kitchen herb garden if you lack a lot of yard space. A kitchen herb garden will help you routinely incorporate herbs into your diet while allowing your kids to easily watch and take care of their crops.
Check out these tips for growing herbs on your kitchen windowsill.
Remember that gardening with your children is supposed to be a fun and safe activity for both of you. Wear sunglasses and sunscreen when needed and store away dangerous chemicals away from your children. Incorporate fun activities alongside gardening like decorating potplants or embellishing your garden with gnomes. Don’t be afraid to visit nurseries and ask questions to boost your garden’s success.