Now there were gaggles of giggles and lots of lads and lassies having fun doing gardening activites. They were hiding, finding, collecting, calling, listening, looking, poking and joking.
Oh the wonderful gardening activities these kids were up to. The adults were giggling too!
We watched and listened and then hurried back here to give you some of these ideas to try in your garden with your kids. Hurry now, you're already a few minutes late because of sitting at the computer reading this. Into the fresh air you go; gather up the ankle-biters and enjoy these gardening activities for kids.
Was that a chortle I heard from the veggie patch?
Follow Building a no dig garden — but child's size. This is a particularly good family gardening activity because a small garden can be built and planted in less than an hour, depending on size and materials used.
You do not have to prepare the garden for weeks in advance, as with other growing methods. Let your child choose the shape they'd like... maybe a circle, triangle, square or rectangle.
There's no hard digging, you can make the garden on a patch of lawn and the children can see science working... blocking light stops weeds or grass growing; nature recycling materials such as paper, compost and leaves back into the ground to feed new plants; mulch will conserve moisture and keep the temperature more even... and so on.
Children love eating things fresh from a garden and they'll feel proud to be part of providing it.
When planning gardening activities for kids, especially if they have made their own little patch, make it convenient for them to get to.
You might want to plant close to the kitchen where the children can harvest items under your watchful eye.
Consider doing quick growing plants. If necessary growing fast plants in containers may be easier so they can keep them on a porch, windowsill or handy place to observe.
Radishes are popular with kids; although not always to eat, but they love growing them. The seeds germinate 100% on cue and grow very fast under impatient little gardeners' care.
Radishes, cress and some lettuce will be ready the quickest in 6-8 weeks. Next in line are dwarf beans, cucumber, cabbage, tomatoes and onion which will be ready in 8-12 weeks.
Most others, including the popular peas, carrots and potatoes will need 16-20 weeks to mature. The children and you could be harvesting from these little gardens for many months.
Gardening for families often means practical veggie gardens, planned flower gardens, sometimes a few fruit trees and berry bushes.
Often, all a child wants is to grow something of their own amongst the normal garden.
Preschoolers and older love to choose say, lettuce or swiss chard. They can plant, water and care for their plant or few plants. They will skip into the garden at dinner time and pick the leaves, wash them and delight in eating them! They don't necessarily need their own garden or their own corner... they may happily spend time with you in the garden, but they will treasure having their own plants.
Help them choose a flower too, which they can care for in the same way — maybe not to eat though unless they're edible flowers... do check first!
Kids love the idea of growing a vegetable 'bigger than the greatest, biggest, hugest, most enormous pumpkin/carrot/bean/tomato/... fill in blank, ever, ever seen!
Here then are the secrets of the champions. This will show you how to pull out all stops and bust your boilers to produce a whoppa Grow a giant pumpkin and other huge vegetables
Got a zucchini that's gone bananas?
It's lots of fun carving vegetables, especially the soft ones like zucchinis (courgettes).
A zucchini is easier to carve than trying to spell it! Carve your zucchini into a face, or hollow it out and make a boat. Put in some sticks for masts and for extra dexterous older kids they can carve out portholes and add other imaginative touches from the garden.
Even little ones can be decorators to poke sticks, flowers, leaves, seed heads, moss, lichen, bark, tendrils etc into soft veggies. A sharp knife isn't necessary; a stick will do to make the holes.
Spuds can be painted with water paint, or pens. Sticks or toothpicks make legs. Hardy leaves can be threaded on hat elastic to make a skirt. Parsley makes great hair perched on top with a dab of glue.
Kids love them. They are wonderful to grow as a kid's gardening activity, if you have the space and it's not too windy. Against a fence or house is best.
Buy some edible de-hulled sunflower seeds... hold it... don't plant these, they're for eating. Then buy the un-hulled garden seeds and grow some so kids can then see that sunflower seeds come from the flowerheads.
If you do want to eat your sunflower seeds from the flowerheads, wait for the flower to die, mature and dry somewhat, then pick and finish drying in a dry, warm place.
You'll need to pick the flower heads before the birds or mice get them (yes, field mice love to scamper up sunflowers to get to the seeds). When the flowerheads are dry you can bang and shake out the sunflower seeds to eat.
Giant sunflowers are impressive, but there are smaller varieties if space is a challenge. The dwarf sunflowers are happy in pots and they mature earlier than the giants. Depending what's available in your country and area, here are some suggestions:
For biggies, try: Grey Stripe Giant Sunflower – flowerheads about 60cm (2ft) wide. Russian Mammoth Sunflower — at least 518cm (17ft) high.
Some dwarf varieties are: Big Smile, Teddy Bear, Dwarf Sensation
Talk about absorbing and creative... see how it's done here: Kids Sand Saucer Gardens
Here are a couple of ideas to spark a child's interest in gardening AND re-cycling:
2 yrs old and up will delight in these. For littlies, adult help with cutting etc is needed.
Build this portable greenhouse!
Water gently, and close lid leaving a small space for air but closed enough for a bit of humidity to trap heat. Put on windowsill or warm place — dark is ok until seeds sprout.
Shoe gardens — Sneak a garden in a sneaker!
That's right, sneakers, boots, and old school shoes that ain't gonna walk no more, can now grow old gracefully, well at least usefully.
These unique and personal shoe garden planters really do capture children's interest because they can feel proud of what they achieve... which is an almost instant little salad or a delightful show of flowers or succulents.