People of all ages can enjoy gardening, but children, in particular, will have lots of fun and gain special benefits. Gardening is educational and develops new skills including:
- Responsibility– from caring for plants
- Understanding– as they learn about cause and effect (for example, plants die without water, weeds compete with plants)
- Self-confidence – from achieving their goals and enjoying the food they have grown
- Love of nature – a chance to learn about the outdoor environment in a safe and pleasant place
- Reasoning and discovery – learning about the science of plants, animals, weather, the environment, nutrition, and simple construction
- Physical activity – doing something fun and productive
- Cooperation– including shared play activity and teamwork
- Creativity– finding new and exciting ways to grow food
- Nutrition – learning about where fresh food comes from.
Some suggestions to get children involved and interested in creating a garden include:
- Keep it simple.
- Give children their own garden space
- Use lightweight, easy-to-handle, correct-sized tools and garden equipment.
- Encourage children to dig in the dirt. (Younger children love making mud pies)
- Grow interesting plants such as sunflowers, corn, pumpkins, tomatoes, and strawberries.
- Plant flowers that attract butterflies, ladybirds, and other interesting insects or birds.
To make the garden safe for children:
- Select the correct-sized tool.
- Keep sprays and fertilizers out of reach.
- Do not use chemicals. Garden organically whenever possible.
- Provide safe storage for equipment and tools.
- Secure fences and gates.
- Do not leave buckets of water unattended around very young children and toddlers.
- Younger children will require careful supervision during activities. Suitable tasks for younger children include watering plants, harvesting produce, and planting seeds. Older children are physically capable of handling a greater variety of activities, like digging, carrying, planting, mulching, and pruning.