I FOUND SOME GOOD FAMILY RELATED MATERIAL ON THE VICTORIAN GOVERNMENT WEBSITE THAT'S REALLY GREAT. I'VE BEEN RESEARCHING NATURE A LOT - OUR NEED FOR REGULAR EXPOSURE TO IT SOME WAY/WAYS THROUGH THE WEEK.
IN MY PRETEENS, I WAS FASCINATED BY PEAS AND BEANS EMMERGING THROUGH THE SOIL, WHEN MY MUM WAS TENDING HER VEGGIE GARDEN AND WOULD HAVE LOVED TO HAVE A FEW PLANTS OF MY OWN TO GROW. MY FEELINGS ABOUT THIS WERE NOT VOICED UNTIL I MENTIONED IT TO HER LATER IN LIFE (MY 40'S OR 50'S).
IN RESPONSE, SHE SAID "Oh Janet, you never said anything about it. I would have been happy to share some with you - I didn't think you were interested." I WAS ACTUALLY INTRIGUED. IT'S A GREAT INTEREST FOR KIDS OF DIFFERENT AGES, FROM LITTLE TO TEENS and A GOOD CONTRAST TO THEIR TECH INTERESTS - HELPING TO PROVIDE A BALANCE FOR THEM, HEY? AND HEALTH BENEFITS TO BE GAINED TOO, A WIN WIN!
The Government Says:
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, the 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.
Getting children interested in gardening
Some suggestions to get children involved and interested in creating a garden include:
- Keep it simple.
- Give children their own garden space. (This does not have to be big. You can even start with a large container or a few pots.)
- Involve older children in the planning and design of the garden.
- 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.
- Use a trellis or teepee to grow beans or sweet peas.
- Plant flowers that attract butterflies, ladybirds and other interesting insects or birds.
- Make a scarecrow.
- Install a water feature, a birdbath or a sundial.
- Set up a worm farm.
- Visit community gardens, children’s farms or botanic gardens for ideas.
Child safety in the garden
To make the garden safe for children:
- Select the correct-sized tools.
- Keep sprays and fertilisers out of reach.
- Do not use chemicals. Garden organically whenever possible.
- Provide safe storage for equipment and tools.
- Secure fences and gates.
- Provide shade in summer with umbrellas or shade cloth.
- Make sure that where it’s appropriate, children wear a hat and suitable clothing and maybe gumboots.
- Do not leave buckets of water unattended around very young children and toddlers.
Plant selection for children
Children like large, brightly coloured flowers and vegetables that grow quickly. Plants such as sunflowers, sweetcorn and pumpkins are good examples.
You should also consider using varieties of plants that have sensory and textural qualities as well. Examples of great sensory plants include:
- Touch – woolly lamb’s ear, succulents (such as aloe vera), bottlebrush species, snapdragons
- Taste – basil, strawberries, peas, rosemary, carrots, cherry tomatoes
- Smell – jasmine, sweet peas, lavender, pelargoniums, native mint bush, lemon balm
- Bright colour – daffodils, rainbow chard, marigolds, pansies, sunflowers
- Sound – corn, bamboo and grasses rustle against each other when the wind blows.
Different-aged children in the garden
Toddlers, preschoolers, primary-school-aged and older children will all have different expectations and will learn different things in the garden.
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.
Just think of it, this will encourage more family togetherness too. Maybe you have an only child - they love to see the plants peeping out of the soil when they first emerge. Having their own little Veggie Patch or Mini Flower Bed gives them a delightful sense of awareness - garden pots or planters are OK - it gives them a sense of ownership as well and a little independence. Something to take pride in and give them a sense of achievement. Also, the pre-teens and teenagers like working things out. Besides, TV and Techy MEDIA does so much thinking for them, it's good for their decision making skills and venturing into something different, aye?
Have you heard of Neutrog's and Jamie Oliver's intervention in Schools, with Gardening and Cooking with Natural Produce? Neutrog is an Australian company with Natural Organic Fertilisers and Mulches - they start hands on gardening projects in some schools. Most people have heard of the english chef Jamie Oliver - he goes to lots of Schools and gets the kids interested in cooking with fresh Veggies. The kids go home and ask for Veggies.
Don't be frightened of the sunshine, different to what we've been taught over the media, it's actually good for you! So you only have to be careful of overexposure at the hottest time of the day. That's common-sense really, isn't it?
Most sunscreens are Toxic for your skin and your health. Two things have been discovered that have come up a number of times in my research, it's good to be mindful of. They are: people often get skin cancer because they have "no time in the sunshine" and fresh-air. And toxic sunscreens baked into your skin is actually the guilty culprit. It's not good that good healthy sunshine is getting the bad rap. It's kept so many people and children indoors and it's founded on ignorance. Mother Nature would tell us "the theory is flawed" researchers who know better certainly do!
So Feel Free to come out and ENJOY Nature again - beautiful sunshine, lots of fresh air, and some good old fashioned healthy, wholesome, fun activities. GOOD for You and GOOD for Kids especially! Have fun shopping at Garden Nurseries together, purchasing little punnets of seedlings, some hand tools etc. Do your best to keep away from "nasty chemicals" and go NATURAL......just think of it, you can have some Organic Produce of your own that is expensive in Supermarkets often.
I love to visit the LOCAL Farmers Markets as well and buy what Fruit and Veggies I don't grow at really good prices. Ask each vendor if they use chemicals or not - some will tell you "No, no, chemicals No" and others will say "they don't like using them". Be a good judge of character and decide who sounds genuine like the ones I mentioned here.
A REALLY GOOD TIP:
Have problems getting kids to eat Veggies? How about giving them their own Veggie patch? They get very inspired and take pleasure in trying their own produce and develop the taste for them because they take an active interest in seeing them grow. They will also develop a healthy interest for years to come and grow up to thank you.
At home, you can have lots of fun with gardening projects. Pinterest online has lots of ideas you can pick and choose from. There are Seed Companies on the internet who sell Organic Seeds if you like, and much more varieties than you see in the stores sometimes because they sell lots of Heirloom Seeds and Heritage Seeds. Ebay is good for those too - especially if you don't have a Garden Nursery nearby. I wish you lots of pleasure and happy gardening.
Very Soon I Will Make Another Post, Giving You Names And Details For Some Really Good Garden Sites (Seed Companies and Gardening Clubs). Looking at this week for that.