How to get kids into gardening

Poppy has been gardening her patch in the family garden since she was three years old.

Her dad Chad is an early childhood educator and thought a patch of garden would be great for Poppy – something that would grow while she did.

The garden project started on Chad’s ‘dad days’ with Poppy and got bigger and bigger. Even when she was a tiny tot Chad had her out helping to drag bales of hay around to build their vegie beds. He was studying early childhood education at the time and so Poppy became his guinea pig as he learnt.

Some things worked and some didn’t. Ideas that worked included projects that empowered her, where she could do all the work, work out the strategies and get the job done.

They went for the no-dig approach for their vegie beds and Poppy was project manager. The plan was:

Mapping out beds with timber
Laying down cardboard
Adding in organic material (compost and manure)
Covering it with straw mulch

Chad doesn’t correct what she does in the garden; a wonky trellis stays wonky.

The patch has proved highly productive and they both have a lot of fun sharing the work too.

Millie asks Poppy about some of the gadgets she has devised for the garden. These include ice-cream sticks to show how deeply to plant seeds. Poppy places two seeds – such as peas – on the stick then mark off the stick so she can measure the recommended ‘twice the seed size’ for the perfect planting depth.

Poppy also has three chickens: Daisy, Flowers and Princes Leia, which eat weeds and kitchen scraps. Chad has set aside an area for Poppy to plant greens for the chooks but it’s quite shady, so the plants haven’t been doing well. Millie shares some shade-loving plants from her garden that should do well in the area: Comfrey, sorrel and a canna lily.

Apart from lots of learning, growing fresh food and being outside, the best thing about getting kids in the garden is that it’s really good fun.

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How to get kids into gardening

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