April showers bring May flowers! April is a great time to clean up your garden and get ready for planting!
Gardening is a relaxing outdoor activity that gets you moving, so why not get the whole family involved. Children are curious and love to learn by doing. By allowing children to help you in the garden they are given the chance to; experience the satisfaction of taking care of something, observe the cycle of life firsthand, learn about environmental awareness, increase their self-esteem as they experience success in their garden and learn a life skill that may be overlooked in school.
Here Are Some Benefits of Gardening:
- You get the satisfaction of watching things take root and grow
- An opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and a chance to introduce children to the joys of nature
- An enjoyable form of exercise for all ages
- An opportunity to improve the beauty of any landscape or property
Child Friendly Plants for Your Garden: A lot of these plants/crops are fairly easy to grow, require little maintenance, have short growing seasons and are fun to harvest.
- Sunflowers (flower) – Plant just one or two as they take up space. These flowers will sprout within a week, will be 2’ tall within a month and in 8 weeks the buds will flower. If you grow the “confectionary” sunflowers, they will dry in the late summer and leave seeds that you can eat.
- Snapdragons, Cosmos, Marigolds (flowers) – these low maintenance flowering plants can be purchased at a nursery and probably already have buds or flowers which will give faster results.
- Radishes – These may not be a favourite food choice but the rate at which they grow will definitely keep your child’s interest. They have a very short growing season 20-30 days.
- Snow peas – These are a fast growing plant, they will mature in 60 days. They are also fun to eat right off the vine. They prefer a partially shady spot in the garden.
- Zucchini – easy, fast and impressive in size.
Tips for Gardening with Children:
- Supply real child sized gardening tools, not toys.
- Get the best soil you can afford, better soil makes for better results.
- Try and create walkways between plants/gardens, to prevent trampling of plants.
- Consider giving children their own garden space in the garden, mark them with a tongue depressor and write their names on them.
- Show off their work – when giving garden tours, be sure to point out the child’s garden area.
- If you don’t have space in the garden, you could create a raised garden bed, a large bucket or flower pots.
Gardening Safety Tips:
- Wear sunscreen. Liberally apply sunscreen 15 minutes prior to heading outdoors and reapply every two hours.
- Wear protective clothing such as pants, gloves, non-slip shoes and a hat.
- Always supervise children in the garden.
- Before you start gardening, warm up with some slow stretches.
- Teach tool safety.
- Take regular breaks and relax in the shade with a drink of water to keep hydrated.
- Avoid long gardening sessions and rotate tasks to avoid a lot of repetitive movement to avoid back pain or other injuries.
- Don’t lift yard waste that is too heavy for you, use a wheel barrel.
- Keep children away from the lawn during and after a chemical has been used.
- Keep a first aid kit in your home and emergency numbers posted near the phone.
- Keep all electrical gardening and landscape tools locked away from children.
- Keep all weed killers locked away from children.
- Be careful of poisonous and toxic plants
Be safe, enjoy your time outdoors and happy gardening!