How to Teach Children How to Garden

Gardening is such a lovely hobby, and one you can introduce children to at the earliest age.

You may be wondering just how to start kids gardening and how to teach them these fun skills.

Do you need to be an expert?

What if you don't know much about gardening or only have limited space?

The truth is, even if you only have a window box or use plant pots and practice vertical gardening on your balcony, teaching children how to garden is easy.

Read on to find out how to teach children how to garden...

Sophia is our keenest gardener and has been busy watering, potting up and growing seeds since she was two.

Gardening gets kids outside, helps them connect with nature, and can even help them to eat more healthily.

For children, the great outdoors is a wonderful, educational playground, a place to play, learn and explore, and the perfect environment for them to bond with nature.

Get out there and talk about trees, flowers and plants in the wild, look at what grows where, discuss why.

Then bring this home to your own garden, patio, balcony or window box and get planting!

Growing their own vegetables and fruit is also a great way to introduce children to new foods, and the ideal way to instil healthy eating habits.

They are far more likely to try something they have grown themselves, and demonstrating the connection between soil and food is essential.

Not sure where to start?

Here's how to introduce children to gardening, for lifelong learning and enjoyment.

Make it fun

By making children's first encounters with the natural world fun, you will instil happy memories and associations for life.

And hopefully create a relaxed adult who embraces the natural world and avoids all the negative trappings of modern life.

Start small

Contrary to popular belief, gardening doesn't require some advanced skill set and wide knowledge of Latin.

In fact, planting seeds can be done by anyone.

Just buy a few pots, some peat-free compost and a packet of seeds.

Start with something simple and fast growing, like salad crops, as children like to see results fast!  

Choose things that they love to eat, but throw something new into the mix too.

(If you really don't have a clue and want some help, enlist a friend or family member who can get you both started.  Keen gardeners will jump at the chance!)

Keep the momentum going

When we take the girls to the garden centre, we buy a mix of seeds and plants.

For example, you could buy a packet of basil seeds, a packet of spring onion seeds, some small tomato plants, and a more advanced forced or grafted plant that already has ripening tomato fruit on it.

When you get home, plant out the smaller plants, water the larger one, and start sowing some of the seeds each week.

This way, you will be able to pick some tomatoes soon, some later, and will have basil and spring onions in stages as you go.

Perfect for making their very own salad.

Make it pretty

Fun as growing produce is, who can resist something pretty too?

Again, a combination of seeds, plug plants (that just means lots of little ones together), and more mature plants is key.

Buy a decent sized container, some peat-free compost suitable for containers (this usually has added nutrients and water retaining substance in), and a selection of pretty flowers.

Let them get stuck in

There are no hard and fast rules on what to plant, so grab some pots and start designing.

Pop them in your trolley and move around to get contrasting and complementary height, colour, texture etc.

Let the children do this themselves, with some encouragement and maybe a little guidance, then help them to plant them out at home, and show them how to water and care for their new mini garden.

You could add in a few little toys and decorations too, most garden centres are full of such things, or just use some of their plastic toys or animals at home.

Let them explore

Young children are naturally curious about the natural world, so do everything you can to encourage them.

Think about how to encourage imaginative play outside, and invest in playhouses or teepees, build them a mud kitchen.

Let them make the most of being outside, investigating all the mini-beasts they can find, watching the bees and butterflies, feeding the birds, eating leaves from herbs, even tasting the grass and the soil if you can be that laid back!

Give them responsibility

If you have room, give your budding gardener their own piece of garden and let them hoe their plot to improve the soil, then grow what they like.

This is a great step up from the container gardening they have been doing, and a nice set of child-size garden tools would be perfect for getting them involved and feeling responsible, like a proper little Monty Don!

Even the youngest children can have their own mini watering can and get involved with the watering.

Make it about someone else

Encourage children to look for plants that attract bees and butterflies, give them identification guides or cards, and explain what pollinating insects do for us.

If they have pets like rabbits or guinea pigs, encourage them to think about their favourite foods.

Which of those can they grow?

A packet of salad seeds will grow lots and lots of plants, so sow a few each week to keep bunny happy for months!

Show off!

Once your child's garden, whether it be pot or patch, is coming along nicely, suggest that they hold a garden party for family and friends.

Follow our guide to how to create a garden perfect for entertaining, and get ready to show off those green fingers!

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