Gardening should be enjoyed by everyone. It’s a lot of fun, you get to be creative, and you’re outside enjoying the fresh air. Children specifically should learn at an early age about gardening as it will teach them about life, creativity, and give them much needed Vitamin D from the beautiful sun. Any one of any age can garden as long as you have a love for something unique, beautiful, and exquisite. Young children can develop a love of gardening as early as they can crawl. When my son was an infant, I used to have him sit outside with me in his little infant chair while I tended my garden. Although he probably didn’t know exactly what I was doing, I’m sure the experience of sitting outside in a relaxed environment with the fragrant flowers surrounding him evoked some kind of calming sensation. And that’s exactly what a garden should do – help you relax, feel calm, and recharge.
Gardening can also help the environment if you use eco-friendly products including pest control. I try to limit my use of pest-control on my plants regardless of it’s non-toxic ingredients by simply being diligent around my plants. I pluck the dried leaves and keep an eye on pests regularly. Being diligent around your garden can prevent many unwanted garden insects and help keep your hard-earned plants beautiful and thriving. Being an eco-friendly gardner can also teach your children about our precious ecosystem and help them learn to be more environmentally responsible in the future when they have their own gardens to take care. A good way to start is by using organic soil (for both potted and ground plants), buying plants that are insect and mold resistant, and using natural, non-toxic pest control when necessary. A good company that makes non-toxic pest control is EcoSMART (http://www.ecosmart.com/). I have a gardening friend who also once suggested making my own non-toxic pest control formulas. She suggested natural, non-toxic dishwashing detergent diluted with water as an option as well as garlic spray and lavender blends. I also read that planting certain plants around your more pest-susceptible flowers such as marigolds and garlic can prevent pests from going near that designated area. But regardless of what you do to maintain your garden, keep one rule in mind: if you use toxic pest control on the plants you eat, then skip that step and use something non-toxic. And remember that children are endlessly curious – keep them safe around any toxic pest control and toxic plants as well.
If you do plan on teaching your kids all about gardening, then organic gardening is really the best way to garden. It helps the plants live longer and healthier, it’s healthier for the planet, and it’s more humane to the pestering insects. You can also try making your own compost: http://ext.homedepot.com/community/blog/sustainable-gardening-composting-made-easy/ which is more time-consuming, but you have greater control and satisfaction. Organic gardening is also less worrisome should your ever curious kids and pets wander into the garden without your knowledge. Ofcourse you don’t have to use organic soil for your plants, but it wouldn’t hurt either way.
Just the other day, my son and I were at Home Depot looking at their latest plants for the season. Although they don’t have as great a bounty as say, nurseries, Home Depot does keep a good supply of your regular, easy-to-plant varieties and their prices are a lot better. We picked up a few plants including marigolds, freesias, verbenas, and it was delightful to have my son ask me what that plant was or what this plant is as we walked around. His curiosity and desire to learn and grow plants just made it even more fun for us when we took our newly purchased flower plants home. Now, as our little garden is starting to fill up with flowers and herbs, he takes great joy and pride in watering them every day and tending to them; carefully plucking the dried leaves and buds and talking to them. Where he learned to talk to his plants, I’m not sure of – probably from watching TV, but it’s cute, nevertheless.
Some great plants for kids to grow and start learning about are herbs such as thyme, basil, mint, and so forth. Flowers such as calendula, roses, and lavender are also great choices but just be wary of the thorns on roses. And vegetables of any kind would be perfect as your children can watch them grow from seeds to seedlings, to blooming plants! So no matter which plants you choose to begin your gardening, just remember to choose seasonly when starting and let your children pick out some of their own too. And even better, if your child is old enough, designate a special section in the garden for his/her plants only and allow them to take care of it the proper way. The result will be bountiful for both your children and you!
Happy Mother’s Day!
*Photo credit to Proven Winners(www.provenwinners.com).