Kids + plants: grow a love of gardening
Kids love to get dirty and the best way for them to get dirty this spring is by planting a garden. A garden gives children something to care for, teaches them patience and gets them outside as they tend to their plants.
Sue Watts, educational director for the South Carolina Botanical Garden, shared a few pretty flowers and some fun and healthy foods for kids to try this year.
● Zinnia - According to Watts, Zinnias are wonderful for our area pollinators, and these colorful and fun flowers are a great starter for kids. Start them in the ground, as they don’t do well with transfers.
● Sunflower - Who doesn’t love a bright, cheery sunflower? Kids love that they get so tall and the birds in your yard will thank you for the yummy treat.
● Pansy - Did you know that you can dust pansies with sugar and eat them? After a wash and a dry, these pretty little blooms are edible, too. They have a grassy taste.
● Snapdragons - These fantastically fun little blooms are a favorite with kids, and they come in a variety of colors that will brighten up your kids’ garden area.
● Radish - Yes, really. Watts notes that kids will surprise you with what they will eat if they’ve grown it themselves, and these grow quickly.
● Peas - Peas can be eaten straight from the garden (as long as pesticides aren’t used), and the shoots are great in salads. Kids love to watch the vines climb and curl.
● Lettuces - According to Watts, her students at the Botanical Garden love the tender shoots of kale. And as she said, “If you put it outside instead of on their plate, they’re more likely to want to eat it.”
● Tomato - Tomatoes now come in a wide variety of colors, and what kid doesn’t love color? They are quick and easy to grow, and the smaller fruits will grow even quicker and give kids a higher yield for their efforts.
● Herbs - Many herbs are great for kids to grow and will give you some flavor in your meals. Watts said simple cuttings of fresh herbs can be put in some water and roots will begin to sprout, then they can be moved to soil. Try this with rosemary, thyme and oregano.
Watts said that getting children outside and in the dirt is proven to be good for both their immune system and their psyche. Grab a trowel and watering can and help your kids start a garden today.
Here a couple books that might make for some good garden reading
In a Garden by Tim McCanna and illustrated by Aimee Sicuro (Simon & Schuster, ages 4 – 8) is the beautiful story of what happens in a busy garden – under, in, above and all around the ground and a great tale to get kids excited before you plant.
Thank You, Garden by Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Simone Shin (Beach Lane Books, ages 3 – 7) walks kids through the fun of growing a community garden and sharing the harvest.