Most kids are intrinsically interested in planting and growing a garden. They love getting out and playing in the dirt, watching things grow, and creating something from nothing. What they might not know is how good this is for their well being.
Getting dirty is good for kids as it builds their immune system. Jack Gilbert, a scientist who studies microbial ecosystems at the University of Chicago, wrote a book called, Dirt is Good: The Advantage of Germs for Your Child’s Developing Immune System. In it, he describes how our over-sanitized world is actually leading to more allergies and sicker kids. Exposure to bacteria, often found in the garden bed, is good for kids.
Being outside is also good for kids’ minds. Green outdoor settings, including a garden, appear to reduce ADHD symptoms in children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Time outside also reduces stress and increases Vitamin D levels.
By making gardening fun and by planting some fresh ideas in kids’ minds about growing food, we can get them interested and involved in gardening and benefit their physical and mental health.
Use these tips and start gardening with your kids this growing season.
Tips For Gardening With Your Kids
* Start garden plants from seeds. Allow kids to help select the seeds and help plant them. As they watch the tiny garden seeds sprout and emerge from the soil, kids will be amazed at the transformation from seed to plant.
* Select garden seeds and plants that will capture the interest of kids, like sunflowers. Kids are fascinated by how quickly a sunflower grows and quickly becomes taller than them. Keep a measuring tape handy so the kids can measure the growth of the sunflowers every few days and record it in a gardening journal.
These huge, fascinating flowers will also provide home-grown food for birds or chickens. Kids will be able to develop a secondary interest from gardening by learning to how to grow food for animals.
* Nasturtiums are pretty flowers that are edible. Nasturtiums also attract hummingbirds, deter garden pests, and add nitrogen to the garden soil. An ideal plant choice when gardening with kids, because who doesn’t like eating flowers?
* Pole beans are fast growing and will capture a child’s attention. Pole beans are climbers, so use something out of the ordinary for them to climb on, like an old step ladder, to keep the kids interested in watching and measuring the pole beans’ growing process. Pole beans can be picked and eaten raw right off the vine when grown organically.
* Growing potatoes will capture kids’ interest at harvest time. Hand them a shovel and make it a game of digging for buried treasure.
* Give kids their own little garden spot to grow their favorite vegetables. At harvest time, prepare that favorite food with your kids. For instance, if your kids like pasta dishes, let them grow the tomatoes, oregano, and basil for that dish. It will keep the kids interested in gardening when they watch the vegetables go from seeds in the store to finished product on the table.
Keep kids interested in gardening throughout the winter with these projects:
* Plant and grow herbs, like oregano, sage, and mint in a sunny windowsill
* Paint terra cotta pots for next spring’s flowers
* Create a terrarium
* Build a birdhouse
* Visit your local library and read books about gardening
Guest post by Mel from Mel’s Garden.