Children develop long-term attitudes about nature at a very early age. According to Oregon State University, as early as preschool children develop lifelong relationships with their environment. In addition, the website states that gardens can be a place for children to express themselves as well as allow their imaginations and senses to roam. Herbs are a great place for young gardeners to start, because most are easy to grow and offer an abundant supply of scent, color and creative use. Children can get involved with their herbs from germination to harvesting.
Gardening and cooking are both engaging and fun activities for children. So why not incorporate both? Create a pizza herb garden for children to grow and make their own pizza sauce by planting basil, oregano and garlic. All three ingredients grow well in containers, which make it easy for parents and teachers to monitor the project. Basil and oregano prefer full sun and well-drained soil. Garlic, a member of the onion family, will tolerate partial shade. Oregano and garlic are both hardy perennials that if protected will come back year after year. However, basil must be replanted.
Herbs are ideal for a windowsill garden because they grow well in containers and most remain compact. Young children benefit from windowsill gardens because they can watch the progress of their plants from the comfort of their home environment. In addition, children can plant a windowsill herb garden during the cold winter months. Herbs that make effective windowsill herbs include parsley, chives and thyme. Parley needs at least five hours of sunlight and a deep flower pot. Chives also thrive in a deep flower pot in which the plant's roots have room to spread. Grow parsley and chives together. Thyme prefers sunny and dry conditions. This herb works well in an individual pot in a sunny window.
Herbs offer an abundant supply of scents, textures, colors and tastes. Allowing children to grow their own sensory garden is an appealing activity for children in a variety of age ranges. For texture, try a sage plant, which features oblong, wooly gray-green leaves. Rosemary offers scent, texture and color. Another great herb plant to use in a sensory garden is Borage. Borage is a French herb that is commonly used for soups. This herb offers tall blue-purple flowers that grow in a spike-like cluster.