Introducing Kids To Organic Gardening
Organic gardening is a healthier way to grow plants. An organic garden is free of harmful chemicals. Using chemicals in the garden can damage soil quality, which prevents plants from absorbing much-needed nutrients and makes them more vulnerable to diseases and pests.
An organic garden is alive with plant diversity, including a variety of edible plantings that are grown for food. Growing organic food teaches your kids about nutrition and helps keep them healthy and happy.
Various herbs can be grown for seasoning foods or for their medicinal properties. An abundance of flowers attracts important pollinators, like birds and insects.
The organic garden is a welcoming habitat for wildlife, which would not be possible by using chemicals. But what makes organic gardening even better? Compost, compost, compost.
What is Compost?No matter how poor the garden soil is, it can be easily transformed into healthy, manageable growing soil simply by using compost. Compost enhances the physical aspects of soil by stabilising pH levels and improving drainage. Compost produces healthier soil, and healthy soil produces healthy plants.
Compost is made up of organic materials that break down in the soil. This organic matter helps to nourish and feed the soil. Organic matter encourages the presence of earthworms too, which increases drainage and aeration of the soil.
Composting materials can include things like leaves, grass clippings, kitchen and garden waste. Never put any meat or bones in compost. Stick to kitchen scraps such as fruit or vegetable peelings, crushed eggshells, and coffee grounds.
Fun Activities For Kids IN The Organic GardenTo introduce kids to organic gardening, begin with teaching them about the basics of soil and its importance. Make this learning more interesting by including earthworm education and fun activities.
For instance, have them dig around in search of earthworms. Give them a clear cup; let them fill it with soil and their worm. Cover the cup with cling film, making sure that air holes are poked throughout. Allow them to watch their worm's activity for a day or two before releasing it back outside.
You could also help them create a 'mini' compost bin using a clear, plastic pop bottle. Remove the top and poke some holes in the bottom. Shred some pieces of wet newspaper and place some inside the bottle. Next, add some kitchen scraps, like peelings and coffee grounds, and then a layer of garden waste, such as leaves or grass clippings.
Continue to layer until the bottle is about ¾ full. Cover the top with a cloth (or cling film) and allow it to sit, stirring every few days or so. If desired, the kids can place an earthworm or two inside as well. Keep the compost moist, not wet.
Study the compost over the course of a few weeks, taking notes. Once the compost has completed its decomposition, give the kids a chance to use it. Get some potting soil and a small plant. Lay out a sheet of newspaper and let them empty out the compost, leaving a small amount in the bottom. Add some potting soil and the plant. Fill in around the plant with remaining compost then water the plant and watch it grow.
Going Organic Means a Healthier FutureOrganic gardening is not only safer but also reduces garden maintenance and offers natural solutions to pest problems, rather than fighting them with chemicals.
Organic mulch, such as shredded bark, is often used in organic gardens to minimise weed growth, as well as to promote soil health. This retains moisture and breaks down in the soil, much the same way as compost.
Healthy soil is the foundation of every successful garden. Organic gardening not only achieves this, but plants resist pests and diseases more easily, grow more vigorously, and organic food naturally tastes better.
By adding organic matter to the garden, kids are learning the importance of caring for, and giving back to, the environment.
Organic gardening requires planning, problem solving, and time but it teaches kids about the value of hard work and its rewards.
By using organic gardening practices, kids form connections with the natural environment, which in effect, promotes self-esteem and respect for all living things. By connecting children to the wonders of organically grown plants and organic food production (growing it from seed to harvest rather than just seeing it on a plate), they are more likely to make healthier food choices throughout their life.
And by teaching kids to value and respect our environment, as well as themselves and others, we can contribute to a healthier and more stable future for all.