Gardening with kids, one of life's simple pleasures
GARDENING is one of life's simple pleasures, and gardening with children is particularly special. Their natural enthusiasm and curiosity are infectious.
And every little garden excursion will yield new wonders as they closely observe the incredible complexity and beauty of the natural world.
Give the kids their own pot or space in the garden to grow whatever they want.
Use seeds or seedlings, or both, but make sure you give the plants the right conditions so your child will have success.
Use premium potting mix in a pot, and enrich soil with well-composted organic matter for great results in the garden.
If you're using seeds, choose ones that are quick to germinate and easy for little hands to manage.
Beans are good, and are yummy to eat straight from the plant. Giant sunflowers are incredible, growing quickly to produce huge bright flower heads on tall plants that will tower over children.
Nasturtiums are easy, too, and kids will love sucking the nectar from the little spur at the base of the flower.
Strawberry plants will produce fruit quickly, and there will be ripe strawberries to pick most days if you plant a few. Cherry tomatoes are another great choice.
Involve the youngsters in the decisions about what to plant, and where.
Most kids really enjoy nurturing plants and watching them grow.
But make it easy for them - heavy watering cans or hoses that kink whenever you pull on them quickly destroy the fun.
Get hold of terracotta pots, old tins or shoes and get creative.
Just about any container can be painted or decorated with shells, beads, buttons, or whatever, and then planted with masses of flowers.
There are plenty of gorgeous and inexpensive planter pots available if that suits you better.
Once you've got some things growing, it's time to start playing other games.
Build a fairy house in a secret corner. Use flowers, leaves, twigs, berries, pebbles... whatever is on hand. And who knows, maybe the fairies will visit overnight and leave traces of their presence.
Or build a simple tepee large enough for the kids to sit in. Long, smooth branches or canes cut from something you have growing in the garden will be fine, or grab a packet of tall bamboo stakes.
Plant it with climbing beans. It will quickly become a living tent, a great little hideaway.
Make a scarecrow, or a bird feeder, or set up a treasure hunt. If you're not sure how, do a quick internet search - there are so many fabulous ideas there.
When gardening with children, just make sure you keep it fun, keep it simple, and give them plenty of control.
There is much to be learned and much fun to be had even in the smallest of garden spaces, for children of all ages.