In the Garden:
Christmas is a perfect time to share your love of gardening with kids.
Kids, Gardening and Christmas
How many times have you or someone you know said, "If it wasn't for the kids, I wouldn't bother with Christmas?" Yet even if you don't have young children at home, you are still connected to children in any number of ways. Maybe there are grandchildren, nieces, nephews or cousins. None of those? Then let yourself think in a much more universal, or global, sense. Think how important all children are to the future of the world.
So what does all this have to do with the holidays and gardening? What better time than at Christmas, a time for children, to think about how we can share our own love of gardening with kids. Among the pages of the National Gardening Association website, which, in case you didn't know, is a non-profit leader in plant-based education, is the statement, "We use gardening as a vehicle for encouraging children to make good food choices, augmenting classroom studies with experiential learning, building a love of nature, stimulating social interaction, facilitating cultural exchange, and more."
Kids and Gardening - One on One
No doubt, you're probably busy right now buying presents and decorating the house. Involve your own kids, relatives or someone else's in these activities. Have the kids help fill bird feeders, buy a bird book and learn to identify the birds coming to your feeder with them, string popcorn and cranberries for an outdoor "bird tree." Smear pine cones with peanut butter and hang them on the tree. Continue the theme with a gift of the board game Birdopoly or a Birdcam for a budding photographer.
Go to a Christmas tree farm and cut down a live tree. Even better, buy a living tree to add to the garden. Each year the kids can watch "their" tree grow. Gather greens together from the garden. Share stories about the different plants.
And, yes, while something electronic is probably going to be higher on a kid's wish list than gardening tools, that doesn't mean you shouldn't include at least a few garden-related items on the list. Check out the Kid's Gardening Store on this website for lots of ideas. Consider a Worm Factory for a child who is fascinated by creepy-crawly things. A GrowLab Light Garden will provide a chance for both you and kids to start vegetable seedlings indoors later this winter for a home-grown harvest next summer. And be sure to check out the Rolypig Composter!
For help in learning how to include kids in gardening activities, check out the Parents' Primer at http://www.kidsgardening.org/family.asp. This primer is not just about creating one garden for your kids. It's about taking advantage of "gardening moments" with your kids every week in your own yard, in the garage, at the windowsill, and in the basement. Through the seasons there are big projects and little opportunities for gardening with kids that can fit seamlessly into your life. This primer will help you learn to recognize those opportunities and turn your kids' questions into fun discoveries. And you'll get the garden-building basics too!
Take Your Love of Gardening to the Community
If time and interest allow, look beyond your own household to your community. For some people, donating money might be harder than giving time. And vice versa. Play to your own strengths. Search out ways that you can use your skills to help children learn about gardening and nature. Contact schools in your area to see if you can help in some way. Get in touch with the Adopt A School Garden Program administered by National Gardening Association or check out their Curriculum Guides and Resources sections. Talk to Master Gardeners, the Cooperative Extension Service, local market farmers. Soon, you'll have a network of contacts, and you'll find the best way that you can help connect kids and gardening.
Let this time of year inspire you to share your love of gardening, be it with one or many.
Care to share your gardening thoughts, insights, triumphs, or disappointments with your fellow gardening enthusiasts? Join the lively discussions on our FaceBook page and receive free daily tips!