Gardening and nature exploration are great activities to show our planet some love, but how can children make their gardening activities greener and more eco-friendly?
We are not all in a position to completely modify the way we live but small changes can have an effect if undertaken by many people. Involving children in these decisions and in the follow up actions is a great way for them to feel empowered and learn from a young age how our everyday choices affect our planet.
Here are a few suggestions:
Reduce, Reuse and Recycle
From empty soil bags to plastic pots from newly purchased plants, gardening produces a fair amount of rubbish and children can actively get involved in ways to reduce, reuse and recycle in the garden.
Plastic pots can be reused and I often ask the girls to wash ours at the end of the growing season ready for the following year. The activity involves water and mud so ideal for a nice warm autumn day!
Like many others, I have acquired a lot of plastic pots throughout the years but where possible I swap them with other options especially when sowing new seeds. These include newspaper pots, toilet roll cardboard tubes and food plastic boxes from our recycling bin. And if you are left with too many plastic pots, most garden centres will have schemes designed to take them back and re-use them. For a few additional ideas you can check out one of my older posts 'The 'P' word'.
Did you know that soil/compost bags can be turned into lining for hanging baskets or be used as grow pots/bags for potatoes? If you want to completely avoid using them, starting a compost bin in your garden is a great way to reduce your household waste and create some fantastic food for your garden. Children can be actively involved in all the stages of composting from collecting the waste to turning the compost. There are many resources out there to help you and your child getting to grips with composting but I personally love this one from kidsgardening.org.
Watering plants (and anything that surrounds them) is usually a favourite of most children but it is great for them to also learn about water preservation and alternative ways to keep plants hydrated.
Installing a water butt to collect rainwater is a good first step that still allows little ones to continue watering.
Planting drought-resistant plants offers an opportunity for children to discover how and why some plants require less water than others (leaf shape, ingenious ways to store water etc.).
Trying water-saving options like ollas can be turned into a little experiment to run with your young gardener to see how they work and how efficient they are.
A garden (or any outdoor space) rich in wildlife is good news for the planet and our environment. Encouraging biodiversity strengthens our garden ecosystems and with a few tips it is easy to achieve.
Sow pollinator-friendly plants (like our Seedbom Birds, Bees and Butterflies) or create a wildflower meadow area in your garden to encourage biodiversity. Both of these activities are great for children with a passion for gardening as they do not require much maintenance and usually offer fairly quick results.
Make sure you include areas in your garden where wildlife can rest, nest and hibernate. These can be created with your young gardener using twigs, pine cones and old off-cuts of wood. The Wildlife Trust has many ideas for children wanting to give their garden wildlife a little bit of help.
Plant a tree
Trees are very important for our planet as they provide shelter and food for many animals as well as producing oxygen and removing carbon dioxide from the air.
Letting kids have a go at planting something that has already grown for a period of time provides a different experience from sowing seeds as the plant they are handling is already there and will not take weeks to appear. It also offers opportunities to look at the plant roots, investigate what a healthy root ball looks like and how big tree roots are compared to the rest of the plant.
Children can also keep a record of what animals they see on the tree throughout the seasons; from minibeasts to birds, this is a fab educational opportunity.
Grow your own food
Learning to grow their own favourite vegetables and fruits is a great way for children to connect with nature as well as decreasing our carbon footprint. We take it for granted but the concept of being able to create food with a simple little seed is something that brings amazement to children and shows how wonderful and magic mother nature is. All you need is some soil, water, sunshine and some of their favourite seeds (have you seen our 'Tomato Sauce' Piccolo seeds yet?). You can't get a shorter distance for ‘farm to fork’!!
This week (28th May 2022 - 5th June 2022) is National Children's Gardening week so it is a great time to help your min gardener 'think green'. What are your ideas for making your child's gardening activities greener and more eco-friendly?