Gardening fun with your little one
Getting your toddler involved in gardening from a young age will arm them with skills for a lifetime. While being active outdoors is great fun and good for health, gardening teaches your little one important life skills such as responsibility, patience, reasoning and discovery. It’s also a great way to develop a love for the outdoors and to better understand where food comes from.
Inspire your little gardener with these handy hints:
- Experiment – Teach your toddler about growth in this simple kitchen experiment. Put tops of carrots on wet cotton wool and keep them watered. Check on them each day and watch the green tops begin to grow. Once your little one gets a bit older, you can try germinating your own seeds together in egg cartons and see little seedlings appear
- Use toddler friendly tools – Getting tools that are safe and easy for little hands make the process a lot easier. Small watering cans and spades are fairly cheap to buy, otherwise you can improvise with items around the house such as using a drink bottle for a watering can
- Start small – Your little one can learn about gardening from an early age. To start, it might be pointing out different coloured plants, feeling the different textures and digging beside you. Be prepared for them to get dirty to appreciate the full experience
- Plant crops that give quick (and edible) results – Harvesting a crop is a very important part of gardening for toddlers, as this is where the connection between a plant and their food really hits home, showing them hard work and dedication pays off. To keep up their enthusiasm, plant fast growing crops that can be eaten straight from the garden. Sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes and strawberries are great for little taste buds, and fast growing salad greens such as lettuce, spinach and cos lettuce are easy to plant and can be harvested regularly, one leaf at a time
- Enjoy learning about a plant from start to finish – Potatoes are a great all-rounder when it comes to teaching your child about gardening. They are easy to plant, and don’t need much care and attention while they grow. Your toddler will love digging for treasure when it comes time to harvest them, and will enjoy being involved in the washing, scrubbing, preparing and sharing of a meal they grew themselves
- Fruit or vegetable? – Supermarket catalogues have lots of pictures of fruits and vegetables which can be cut out and glued on to a sheet of paper for fruit or to the sheet that shows vegetables. Have the two posters on display so that at meal times you can look for the picture and talk about whether what they are eating is a fruit or a vegetable
- Make your own plant labels – To keep track and remind your toddler of what they have planted, you can draw or print photos of the flower, fruit or vegetable. Cut these out and laminate them (to keep them waterproof) and glue onto ice-block sticks. Your toddler can have a go at placing these next to each plant
- Create a little garden – Make a spot in your garden just for your toddler, and let them put some of their skills into practice. They can choose which plants they want to include in their garden and will love the responsibility of tending to it with your help. Make sure there is plenty of room for digging and mucking about, things might get messy!