The world has so much to offer kids. With such a lot of things to try and so many experiences to have, it’s hardly surprising that sometimes even the keenest young gardener’s interest can begin to wane a bit.
It’s often a temporary thing and they’ll soon be taking up their trowels again, with renewed vigour, but if it looks as if gardening is starting to lose its appeal, here are our five top tips for keeping their interest alive.
Make It Fun
If you cast your mind back to the things you most enjoyed doing when you were a child, you’ll probably find that they weren’t necessarily the things that you were best at, but they were almost certainly the ones that you found the most fun.
Even garden tasks that are just plain hard work have some scope to inject a little fun into them and there’s almost certainly no single better tip to help you keep up your kids’ interest in gardening.
Give Your Kids A Say
For many gardeners, a lot of the enjoyment comes from plotting and planning what to do next, so if you can include your children in the process, they’re much more likely to feel they own a real stake in what’s going on. It’s not always easy, of course, and some decisions simply have to be ones that the adults need to make alone, but give them their say and you might be amazed at the ideas they’ll come up with.
It’s obviously something that needs to be tailored to their age and understanding – not to mention the family budget – but the more you can involve them in everything from picking next year’s seeds to planning new projects such as ponds or greenhouses, the better.
Even if you can’t use all of their input directly, it’ll certainly give you a very good idea as to where their particular gardening interests lie.
Use Their Other Hobbies
Encouraging a bit of a “cross-over” between your kids’ other interests or hobbies and the garden can be another great approach to keeping things fresh and interesting.
There are lots of different ways to do this – from fairly obvious ideas such as providing budding fish keepers with a pond, to appealing to children with an artistic bent by devising careful planting schemes full of colour, shape and texture.
Whatever your child’s particular interests, with a bit of thought, there’s bound to be a way that you can incorporate them into the garden.
Visit Local Shows
In many parts of the country there are local shows to go to, which often have competitions for flowers or garden produce – as well as stalls selling all manner of interesting equipment and sundries. If there’s one in your area, it’s well worth thinking about going along – it can make a great day out for all the family, as well as being an excellent source of inspiration and renewed enthusiasm for young gardeners.
Some of them are specifically horticultural events, while others have lots of other attractions besides – and if your children have a bit of a competitive streak, you might find they’ll be thinking about entries for next year.
Try Growing Your Own Food
Growing your own food can be another good way to stimulate a child’s interest in gardening. There’s not much to compare with planting your favourite fruit or vegetable in your own plot, watching it germinate, tending it as it grows and then harvesting it to eat. Aside of the obvious educational and health benefits, not much comes close in terms of the satisfaction of seeing the whole thing through – especially if the end product also tastes really good.
With every school-child an expert on all things green and environmental, you should find that suggesting growing food-plants at home – especially if you let them choose which ones – will be an instant hit. Try to steer your kids towards fairly quick cropping and easy to grow plants at least at first, to let them get the feel of success; there’ll be plenty of time to branch out into more difficult or exotic crops once they’re firmly bitten by the food-growing bug.
Do be warned, however, that growing your own can become addictive!
Gardening isn’t everyone’s favourite pastime and that’s as true for kids as it is for adults. All the same, considering the wide benefits – and all the fun – to be had in the garden, it’s got to be worth trying to keep them interested.
The good news is that it often only takes a little change to put the fun back into the kids’ garden; find the way to do that, and there’ll be no stopping them!