1, 2, 3....Grow!
10 FUN THINGS to do with the KIDS in the garden!
Children are CURIOUS by nature and like to learn by DOING.
There are few things children enjoy more than digging in the dirt and making mud pies. They are fascinated by looking for worms and bugs and love to water the garden.
Children also enjoy planting seeds, watching them grow and harvesting what they have grown. By cultivating their curiosity about these things, you can help them to develop a love of nature and gardening.
They will also enjoy the special time they get to spend with you.
1. Plant a mini (fairy / dinosaur) garden:
Making a DIY miniature fairy / dino garden is an easy gardening activity for girls and boys, that will keep them busy for hours. Children love this activity because they get to learn about nature and tap into their own creativity.
You can make a mini garden in a recycled crate, an old barrel, in a large tea cup or even on top of a bird bath! Think creative!
If you have an old wheelbarrow you can easily create a charming little landscape in it that you can move about to suit your mood or lifestyle.
(Make sure to drill several holes in the bottom of your wheelbarrow to provide drainage for the plants).
Or use a tree stump in the garden as a centerpiece for your fairy garden, with a pebbled pathway leading to your fairy‘tree stump’home.
Add some soil, moss and a few small plants and let your little ones imagination run wild!
*You can purchase a whole range of the cutest mini fairy figures, homes, furniture and accessories at Cape Garden. (Photo: mommymoment.ca)
2. Grow an edible garden:
One of the most important things about edible gardening is understanding where food comes from. Young children are fascinated in seeing food when it’s pulled from the ground, and they notice the similarities and differences from their garden vegetables and produce from the grocery store.
Encourage your child’s enthusiasm by planting seeds that mature quickly and are large enough for a child to easily handle.
*Think: radish, pumpkin, beans and carrot.
Also look out for the Starke Ayres Kidz seed range at Cape Garden!
Herbs are also a good choice to plant indoors (or outside) for children.
Herbs grow fast and can then be easily tasted by your little one. Most prefer a sunny position. A windowsill that receives some sunlight is ideal to create the perfect conditions.
It's also a perfect choice if you don’t have much space in the garden – as most herbs can be grown in any pot or container. Allow your child to use his/her imagination in choosing containers to be used as planters – just about anything that holds soil and has good drainage can be used as a pot.
(Photo: Deanna Beat)
3. Build a Bug hotel:
Like all living creatures, the beneficial insects (the army that helps to keep the bad bugs under control) in your garden, also need a "resting space", but unfortunately most of the time our gardens tend to be too 'sterile and neat' for this necessary process.
So, if you care about the environment, then you will want to be sure that there's an ideal space in your garden for these tired little critters to get a well deserved rest!
Building your own bug hotel can be a fun, creative art project!
This is how you do it:
4. Sow seeds of flowering plants:
While it’s a convenient shortcut to buy seedlings, children will learn much more by seeing the growing process as it begins - from seed.
The care given to sprouting seeds and nurturing of the young seedlings are a valuable part of the gardening experience.
Encourage their enthusiasm even more by planting seeds that germinate and mature quickly and that are large enough for a child to easily handle.
Once it starts to flower its part of the fun to pick the pretty flowers and to put it in a vase or to give it to someone special!
5. Create a children’s sensory garden:
Planting for the senses is easy. Section off the garden for each of the senses. Paint small rocks with one of each of the senses--see, feel, smell, taste, hear--and have your child use them to identify each area of the garden.
Garden space a problem? Simply plant in garden boxes or pots then.
Children love bright colours and these eye-catching flowers are sure to be popular. They also make great subjects for drawing and painting:
*Sunflower (sow: Spring and Summer); Marigold; Gazania; Petunia
Leaves vary between plants – from rough to smooth, furry to spiky. Get your child to touch these plants and describe what they feel like. You can also explain to them that every texture has a purpose. For instance, furry leaves protect the plants from extremes of hot and cold weather, succulent ones help to store water and sharp spines stop the plants from being eaten by hungry insects.
*Pin cushion; Bulbine; Lamb's ear
There are so many delicious plants to eat – fruit, vegetables and herbs.
*Strawberries; Nasturtium (yes, this flower is edible!) - sow from Okt – Febr); Rosemary; Mint
The fragrances not only from flowers, but also from leaves, are wonderful to enjoy in the garden. The smell often have a purpose too – such as attracting insects to the flowers or deterring pests from eating leaves.
*Curry plant; Lavender; Sweet pea (sow from Febr. - June); Star Jasmine
Sit in your garden and encourage your children to listen to all the sounds of nature around them: the bees buzzing, the birds singing and the sound of the wind rustling the plants:
*Sweet corn (sow from Sept – Jan); Bamboo
6. Plant up a succulent pot (within another pot!):
Growing succulents are easy! By nature, succulent plants are tenacious, vigorous plants with low-moisture needs. They thrive in some of the world's harshest conditions so they are generally very easy to care for - they especially don't do very well if they are overwatered and overfed.
This makes them perfect for kids!
For this project you will basically be creating a potted succulent “floral” arrangement inside another pot. You use a small container for the base of your arrangement and place it on its side in the larger container. You fill in the area above the small pot with succulents so, when you look down into the larger pot, you’ll see a beautiful “floral” arrangement made out of succulents.
(Photo: love_succs on Instagram)
7. Plant a natural teepee:
Why not make a living teepee as a shady hideout for the little ones this summer?
With a little bit of help from Mom or Dad, this could make a pretty cool backyard project for the right space!
You can use various plant materials for the cover:
*Star jasmine / Sweet peas - for gorgeous scent
*Black eyed Susan - if you prefer going indigenous
*Even a climbing Bean stalk - which the kids can harvest themselves!
8. Recycle old toys into planters:
Before discarding old, forgotten toys, why not give it new life by turning it into a planter?
You get to recycle - while creating something one of a kind and eye catching!
Let your imagination and creativity run wild here! Basically anything can be a planter...as long as you provide some drainage holes at the bottom (for excess water to freely drain away).
9. Play with steppingstones:
Where lawn struggle to grow, stepping stones (or pavers) come to the rescue!
You can build a life size chess board in the garden!
Plant flat growing ground covers in between the blocks (Dymondia, Penny royal and Pratia are all good options); or if you want to make it even more low maintenance, go for artificial lawn.
*You can use garden ornaments (like gnomes or animals) as the chess pieces; or enquire at Cape Garden about the chess pieces we manufacture.
Or what about turning your stepping stones into a hop scotch board for your children to enjoy? Let the kids paint it in bright colours and add numbers for even more educational fun!
10. Attract Sunbirds to the garden:
The Protea and Leucospermum (Pincushion) forms part of the Cape Floral Kingdom – the smallest but richest plant kingdom for its size, and the only kingdom contained within a single country.
They are popular in South African gardens not only for its beauty, but also for their usefulness in wildlife gardens for attracting birds and other useful insects.
By simply planting a few species in the Proteaceae family (such as Protea and Leucospermum) in your sunny garden, you will be able to attract these pretty birds...just imagine the beautiful sounds (not even mentioning the sights!) coming from your garden!
Sunbirds are wonderfully charismatic little birds to see in your garden, and the southern double-collared sunbird, the malachite sunbird and the dusky sunbird are all common urban garden residents in South Africa.
Also consider planting these to attract them:
*Indigenous coral trees (Erythrinas) *Weeping boer-bean (Schotia brachypetala) *Natal mahogany (Trichilia emetica) *Natal wild banana (Strelitzia nicolai) *Tree fuchsia (Halleria lucida) *Aloe sp. *Cape honeysuckle (Tecoma capensis) *Red hot poker (Kniphofia) *Wild dagga (Leonotis leonurus)
(Photo: Cape Garden)
1, 2, 3....Let the fun begin!