Gardening is a wonderful activity for children. It gets them out in the fresh air working closely with nature and teaches them about the cycles of nature. It demands patience and provides bountiful rewards for a job well done. If you have children, set aside some space in your yard for them to have their own gardening plot. Lots of fun themes can be applied to a child's garden so he enjoys the activity.
Herb gardens are easy to care for and make use of small spaces. Herb gardening is especially educational for children because herbs have been used for so many things throughout the ages. Herbs can be used in cooking, for crafts and to make dyes, teas, medicines, insect repellents, incense and sachets. As you select each plant, do some research with your child to learn how each once was used. For example, grow catnip for a stomach-soothing tea or to sprinkle around the kitchen to keep ants away. Plant citronella and rub its leaves on yourself to repel mosquitos. Plant aloe to soothe sunburn or skin irritations. Make sun tea out of lemon balm or make bath sachets out of lavender buds. The possibilities with herbs are endless.
Most kids love pizza, even if it's just some sauce and cheese drizzled on an English muffin. Make it more interactive and a healthier meal by dedicating a garden plot to pizza toppings. Some appropriate plant choices are plum tomatoes, bell peppers, oregano, parsley, garlic and basil. To make it even more fun, shape the plot like a pizza. Mark a circle on the ground by putting a stake in the center and tying a string to it. Have someone hold the stake in place as you walk around with the string, outlining the circle. Divide the plot into six "pie" slices and place a different plant in each wedge.
A butterfly garden will delight children of all ages as they watch these beautiful creatures flit and float over a patch of colorful flowers. To attract butterflies, grow both plants that adults like to feed on, as well as plants that caterpillars like to feed on to encourage adults to lay eggs in your garden. Adults like to eat plants such as milkweed, cone flowers, marigolds, black-eyed Susan, oregano, mint, zinnias and salvias. Caterpillars like to feed on such plants as parsley, dill, cabbage, nettle, mustard and clover.
If you don't have a lot of land, create a container garden for your child's own special garden. Lots of interesting items can be converted into container gardens, and your child will take pride in this featured decoration on your porch, patio or out in the yard. A plastic wading pool, row boat, wheelbarrow, wagon, bassinet, baby carriage or stacked tires can shelter herbs or flowers. Drill enough drainage holes in the bottom of whatever you're using, and, if necessary, line it with a plastic tarp before filling it with soil and plants.
Secret Garden Hideout
Young children love little nooks and secret places where they can hide. Help them grow their own living clubhouse in your back yard. Take about five or six 10-foot tall poles. Tie them at the top and spread the bottoms around a 5- or 6-foot diameter circle, like a tepee frame. Plant pole beans at the base of each pole. As the beans sprout and climb up the poles, their leaves will make walls to create a space where your child can crawl inside to read, relax and play.