Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Gardening with Children

I really know little to nothing about gardening but I have great unquenchable spirit when it comes to the subject. When I'm learning a new skill, I do like to read books about it, but I'm more of a learn-by-doing type of person. I need hands-on activities and that means killing plants as I learn to garden. (This is sort of frustrating to me but it is the way I learn.)

Naturally, as I approach the idea of gardening I approach it with the idea of it being some kind of wonderful family activity in which everyone will be excited about weeding (or something.) Gryphon House had some interesting books related to gardening and the great outdoors that I thought I'd check out for my wee ones this gardening season.

It is my great hope that my children will love gardening. I don't know why I hope this. When my dad attempted a garden when I was growing up, I don't recall loving it. I recall boredom. But maybe my children will surprise me and surpass my expectations? As I said, I took a peek at The Budding Gardener for starters.

This is a book filled with ideas for hands-on activities to bring children into the wonderful world of gardening.

"No matter where or how you begin, gardening cultivates observation, patience, and responsibility, and offers rewards beyond measure."

(I don't know many children who become wildly excited over a tomato plant's yield but then you never know! Ours might be the ones!)

In this book you'll find ideas for experiments along the lines of planting beans in a cup and watching them sprout on your window sill, to more interesting ideas such as building a butterfly garden. (Amy started one the other day that I thought was kinda cool.) Basically the idea of this book is to find ways to make the idea of gardening sound like the most fun ever. It gives you ideas and motivation to draw children into the process of growing and maintaining a garden for the beauty and edification not only themselves, but the entire family. (The plain facts are, if you act excited about something, your children will believe that it is exciting. At least for awhile.)

I actually started flipping through The Budding Gardener last fall (this review is long delayed) and it got me to start thinking about how I could engage my children in this Family Project. For starters, I asked Bookworm1 what kinds of food he thought would be fun to grow. (There is an idea in this book for how you can create a "Pizza Garden" that I thought was quite brilliant!) He told me that he thought we should grow watermelons (in bright sunny Oregon!) and sunflowers. I'm not feeling too sure about the watermelons, but we bought some sunflower seeds which I'm hoping will produce for him. He also selected snap peas and we've been growing those (successfully!) on our deck in Earth Boxes.

We also went out to weed and de-rock a portion of the yard the other day. I hauled out a large piece of cardboard for me to sit on (clean and tidy so as to easily spot any bugs which might decide to crawl towards me AND also to help prevent accidental slug touchings.) I invited Bookworm1 to join me on his own piece of cardboard and then paid him $0.10 for each box he filled with rocks and hauled away to another portion of the yard. He was an enthusiastic de-rocker at that point. Bookworm2 even got in on the action! (Because, hey!, $0.10!)

We are all budding gardeners and this particular book helped me to see that this was possible.

Learn Every Day About Seasons, by Kathy Charner is the second book I took a look at. Seasons, as you serial gardeners are quite aware, effect gardens tremendously. Being aware of the time of year and the weather is quite important and it's something that Bookworm1 has only recently started to take note of. He's asked me when we're going to pick blueberries, etc., and so we've talked about the season. (We also read a lot of seasonally appropriate picture books to walk us through the year.)

In Learn Every Day About Seasons Charner provides us with ideas for seasonally appropriate crafts, activities, songs and finger poems. There are book suggestions to go along with the activities and lists of materials needed in order to work on any particular craft. If you are just getting into the basics of the four seasons with your little one, this book might be one to check out! How are we practically applying information about seasons? Well, we've started our own gardening calendar so that we can take note of what we planted where and when and so that next year we'll remember when rhubarb is supposed to start making its appearance.

I really appreciate Gryphon House for sending these two books my direction. They have been great prompts for me to get my gardening game on, but to include my children in the process. (I'm sure they are thankful also. They just might not know it yet!)


Sky said...

What a joy to have activities planned together!
I love the idea of gardening together, I just have no idea where to start. The only plants I haven't killed are my geraniums. But who knows? I might be a vegetable gardener!
Thanks for the review!

Stephanie Kay said...

We tried growing tomatoes in pots a few years ago. The boys kept pulling the green tomatoes off just before they were ripe. Little stinkers.

My friend, Amy, has planted a "Salsa Garden." Tomatoes, peppers and cilantro. All the ingredients you need for your own fresh salsa.

Shonya said...

Those books look like great fun to spark that interest in your kiddos. We're missing our garden this year. :(

Bluerose said...

The Budding Gardener looks really cute! It's definitely going on my list for next year. I think(hope) Grasshopper will be more ready for something like that by then.

Of course, it looks like fun for ME! :)

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