Green gardening from the Mitten by Candyce Ewing Abbatt
Monday, October 8, 2012
Gnomes Get Kids Gardening
From the nursery to the nursery, a clever way to engage children in the wonders of gardening is to enlist their help in finding all those sneaky gnomes.
Gnomes have a tendency to pop up in the most unusual places and it takes a wily kid to find them all.
Making it fun, not work for little ones gets them revved up for gardening. Like any childhood experience, early exposure coupled with a cheery approach is a formula for lasting enjoyment.
Small and simple yard projects are the key. Set aside a low shelf in the shed for tiny watering cans, plastic pots or dollar shop utensils.
While touring the local farm market, pick up a six pack of pansies and a packet of pumpkin seeds. Children need the immediate gratification of a pretty pot of colorful plants as well as a daily check of a sprouting seed to carry their interest through the season and hopefully, a lifetime.
Vegetable gardens are a a tricky way to get toddlers to eat greens. Growing corn stalks to tower over a tiny tot marks for them the season. Planting, tending, picking, cleaning and cooking all teach valuable lessons of diligence, patience and the passage of time. One year my mother planted cucumbers in our yard. I was amazed to see how they literally grew overnight. We picked, we canned sweet pickles, we ate. To this day I love cukes.
Raised gardens are best for kids. Set out wood beams or logs in a rectangular pattern, fill one third up with compost from the local municipality and the top with good topsoil. The ground is soft and easy to plant for youngsters. In future years, a quick turnover of the plot in early spring will ready it for more salad growth.
If critters are a problem, then ring the plot with mesh. Using an old gate for entry can be fun. Label it with the child's name. If there isn't room for a garden, a simple container will do, or look for a local community garden.
If the weather isn't cooperative, a rainy afternoon can be spent making fun garden art. One of my favorites is a sweet watermelon stepping stone made by my youngest.
Scarecrows and windchimes can always be made from items around the house.
Just keep it light and fun.
You never gnome what what a kid may find outdoors.
Now, if there was just a way to get them to pull a few weeds?