Turn off those heaters and remove those extra blankets from your bed because we are now in SPRING!!
What better way to celebrate this change of season than to go outside with your child and do some activities together. A favourite spring time activity of mine would have to be gardening. This has not always been an interest of mine but has definitely developed over the years into a passion since sharing it with my daughter.
Gardening is therapeutic, relaxing, interesting, educational and lots of fun. Children love the chance of getting messy and discovery new things. It also helps the child realise where our food comes from and introduces the concept of science being all around us.
Below is a list of the easiest 10 edible plants that everyone should attempt to grow:
Growing tomatoes from seeds is fairly easy. Sprinkle them in well drained soil and ensure that they receive regular water. Cherry tomatoes are great as they ripen quickly because they are smaller than regular tomatoes. On average it takes about 65 days from when you plant cherry tomato seeds to when you will pick your first one. Just over 2 months, that is pretty good. Your child would love seeing the little sprouts growing from the seeds and watching the flowers turn into fruit. A very important concept for children to understand is how fruit and vegetables are produced. Tomato plants can not support themselves so they will need to be supported with a tomato trellis or lattice which they can be attached too. A good vegetable fertiliser will also help your plant produce lots of tomatoes.
2. Snow peas
Snow peas are very easy to grow from seeds. They germinate very quickly and your child will be able to see a sprout within 2 weeks. Snow peas love to climb so they need to have a little bit of room to grow. I put them at the back near a fence so they can use that to climb up. The seeds are large so only put one or two in each small pot.
Another easy plant to grow is a zucchini plant. (also known as a courgette) Male and female flowers grow on the plant and this is a great talking point for you and your child. You can explain the different parts of a flower and how pollen needs to be transferred in order for the vegetable to begin forming. A zucchini plant will spread out a lot and produce lots of zucchinis.
Strawberry plants are very easy and hardy. If you buy a couple of plants, before you know it you will have a lot more new plants as they start to form from small runners. Strawberry plants love full sun and also love well drained soil. You may need to put a mesh over them to stop the birds from eating them.
Basil is a herb that can be used in a lot of cooking. This is a really hardy herb and is able to withstand many conditions. (including a four year old who constantly trims it) Your child will love running out to your garden or herb pot to cut off a few leaves to add to your cooking.
What better way to get your child to eat a variety of vegetables than to let them grow them. Cabbage is a fast growing vegetable that can grow larger than their own head. Cabbages need a bit of room and can be ready to be harvested in 10 - 12 weeks.
Children will love to grow radishes as they are very easy to grow and look after. They are ready to be picked in just 25 days. One seed will only grow one radish so make sure you plant enough seeds to be able to harvest a few.
Make sure you explain to your child that some of our vegetables grow underground. Growing a potato plant is a great one to try with your child. Start with a normal potato and put it out in the sun. Eyes will begin to form. Move your potato into a tall container and put into a dark room. Get your child to observe it everyday to see all the changes that are occurring. When small shoots are a couple of centimetres tall, put it into the soil. They usually take 3-4 months to mature.
This is another great herb that can add so much to your cooking. Buy a small plant and put it into a large pot or into well drained soil. Ensure it has its own space and it will grow the best if it does not have to compete with any other plants.
Beans are some of the easiest vegetables to grow, which makes them ideal for children. They provide a great opportunity to teach children about sowing, germination and how seeds play their vital role as the starting blocks for our food. Like snow peas, beans need room to climb.
Children learn a lot by being outside. They learn about how our world works and how we use nature to help us live. Many children do not get the opportunity to have a first hand experience at growing their own food. This is a great activity to share with your child and allows a lot of conversation which will ultimately increase their understanding about science and increase their own vocabulary with more technical words.
Not everyone has acres of land to grow their own crops. Many people are now moving into apartment style living. Most of the plants above are able to be grown in pots, so why not have your own vegetable, fruit or herb pots on your balcony.
Learning experiences need to be meaningful, engaging and fun. Gardening does this all with the added bonus of being able to eat what you produce.
Until next time …
Kelly PisaniClick here to email this post to yourself or a friend