It’s nothing new, but we all know that children today are more prone than ever to stress, obesity and ADHD. Research has shown that kids with access to greenspace such as gardens on a daily basis have reaped many health benefits including increased attention span and deeper forms of creative play. Children who grow their own vegetables are more likely to eat them. How are parents to encourage kids to get outside and garden? Here are a few tips:
• Give a child their very own planting space to plant and dig as they please.
• Plant veggies kids like to eat such as carrots, sugar snap peas, strawberries and potatoes.
• Try planting crazy veggies like purple potatoes, atomic red carrots or dragon’s tongue beans.
• Create a theme garden. Popular themes include a pizza patch (see below), hummingbird habitat or a fairy garden.
• Invest in some basic pint- sized tools. Gloves, shovels and buckets are a good start.
• Incorporate some family- friendly features into your existing garden. Birdbaths, houses and feeders, gathering areas such as a dining set or bench, play areas such as a sandbox, fort or swing set.
• Involve your kids in harvesting. Kids love to pick peas, dig up potatoes, pull carrots and cut lettuce.
• Pass the scissors. Older children can cut some salad greens or some flowers to bring into the house.
• Hand them the hose! Very small kids are delighted to fill up a watering can and water something. Bigger kids can use the hose to fill birdbaths and water the veggie patch.
• Lead by example. Your kids are more likely to garden if you’re out there too!
• Make it fun. Great ideas can be found on our pinterest board, children’s gardening
RECIPE FOR A PIZZA GARDEN
Imagine a six foot wide pizza, cut into jumbo slices, outlined with a thick rock crust overflowing with your favorite toppings. The idea of a pizza garden begins with making the ‘pizza’. Either create a round bed with rocks and divide into slices or use another round vessel such as a kiddie pool (with drainage holes in the bottom!). Fill your ‘pizza’ with good quality planting soil and divide into slices. Use rocks or string to delineate the slices. Let the kids decide what kind of toppings they’d like to grow and add any or all of these ingredients. Plant your slices and water regularly. Plan a pizza party for the end of summer as the grand finale!
• tomato plants
• bell pepper plants
• zucchini plants
• rosemary plant
• oregano plants
• onion plants
• Orange marigold or calendula plants (as the ‘cheese’)
• Spinach seeds
• Arugula seeds
• Broccoli plants