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Designing and Creating a Children's Garden

Patience and Success Are Grown In Creating a Children's Garden

Now, more than ever children need a garden.  Every child should have a garden regardless of whether they live in the urban city, the suburbs, or out in the country.  Preparing the soil, sowing the seed, planting a plant, and caring for the growing plant all go towards making up a fun experience which leads to a realization of oneness with Mother Nature more than any other activity in childhood, except perhaps that of having a pet.  Through the experience of creating a children's garden any child can explore and understand that without gardens, we'd all be living in caves, dangerously gathering chance fruits, nuts, grains and perhaps barely surviving on the capture and killing of small animals.  Only by gardening with children, can you teach that we need to work in cooperation with nature.  This is what helps define us differently from most other creatures on this earth.

A children's garden is a laboratory where a child can study the phenomena of plant life, along with the interdependence of plant, insect, and animal life.  After seeing the development of seed into plant, your child can watch flowers unfold.  They can learn that bright petals attract certain insects which carry the pollen which insures fertile seed, and the promise of future harvests.  Moreover, your child in the garden will become aware of the ravages of harmful insects, which, in their own struggle for existence wreck havoc among planted crops and call for various earth friendly protective or curative measures.  Additionally, they will learn about beneficial insects who are the garden's friend and their human friends.  They will also learn to cherish their new friends the toads and harmless snakes, and get the connection between birds, who also materially aide in the balance of nature.

Ideally, your child's first garden should be a small piece of land where they can make it their own.  However, realistically given that many families don't have that kind of outdoor space, a children's garden can also be easily done on the patio, porch, or in containers  Even apartment families can find a little gardening space on a balcony, rooftop, or common space outdoors.  If that isn't possible look into free community gardens as an option.

Start budding an interest in gardening with a practice garden when your child is very young.  Let them grow easily-handled bulbs, like the Paper-white Narcissus, Daffodils, Hyacinth, or Amaryllis.  Their fragrant blooms are pretty much guaranteed success and that's an important "first" psychologically.  This way your child won't get discouraged at too young of an age, if they don't produce the desired results.  This is a great tool for teaching a child to look ahead and wait patiently.  Waiting is often very hard for children in an age of virtually surrounded in constant instant gratification.  This is a life experience tool that will last them a lifetime.

While you are waiting for them to grow and bloom is a good time to spend some quality time encouraging your child in drawing pictures of what they did, how the child took care of them, and what they think they will look like and finally what they actually look like when they bloom.  Let your child take pictures of their garden to show others and look at long after the bloom is gone.  It's also good to give them their own garden gloves, garden hats, and set of plastic garden hand tools and make use of any wagon they might have.  

Don't make the mistake of thinking that creating a child's first garden has to be done entirely with seed.  A few easily grown and low care perennials such as:  Coneflowers, Hostas, Peonies, Asters, Forget-me-nots, Daisys, and English Lavender, are just a few of the choices.  Straight from your nearest garden center or nursery, these choices are ones that can be easily planted and care for by any young or older child.

Be sure to include easy to grow vegetables such as carrots, cucumbers, lettuce, radishes.  It is good to include easy to grow herbs, such as:  basil, dill, cilantro, and parsley.  The rewards of growing such vegetables and herbs will bring your child to understanding how certain foods get to the table.  Tomato plants already started are a delight to young minds, as are growing watermelons and pumpkins.  

It's simple to show a child how to plant each kind of seed, explaining that the seeds will grow into plants, and showing them the proper depths so that they won't be disappointed.  After seeding explain the need for thinning and weeding and demonstrate ways to care for their little baby plants.  A sense of joyful achievements found in gardening will add to your child's self-esteem and hopefully lead to a permanent link to nature and a love of gardening.

Great Sources For Getting Started In Teaching Gardening To Children:

Kids Gardening

Missouri Botanical Garden