Gardening with children

by Pippa Greenwood

I really look forward to the school holidays, when I finally get my two children to myself. No hurrying, no homework - just time to do the things we want to do, like being outside for as much of the day as possible.

Manure spread around a fruit treeI really look forward to the school holidays, when I finally get my two children to myself. No hurrying, no homework - just time to do the things we want to do, like being outside for as much of the day as possible.

They're both very outdoorsy and would regard being sat in front of the TV for hours on end as a very unkind punishment. Give them fresh air every time; as long as the weather is not too vile they'll be out 'doing' at every opportunity.

Gardening is high on the list, and they're great at it too. Like every child (and indeed most adults too) they love the 'planting pretties' side of gardening. They're forever growing flowers for their plots (currently polyanthus and more polyanthus!). But they also seem to thrive on hard graft. Just a few days ago I decided to dig up part of our 'lawn' (yes, the tamed pastureland is diminishing again!). Lifting turf on heavy clay is not the easiest job, but they both instantly joined me.

My seven-year-old digs like a turbo-charged trooper - cutting through the turf and barrowing it up just as fast as me. Her brother, usually the first to get digging (he did all the digging for a 20kg sack of daffs I received for my birthday!) eyed up the turf and nabbed it for re-turfing work in front of his own greenhouse. By dusk, after barrowing manure up from the pile at the bottom of our steep, long drive, we were all exhausted. But also very satisfied and happy...

The secret to gardening with children? Start them early and arm them with decent quality and very sturdy gardening tools, designed for kids (or in the case of my leggy son, a border fork and spade as he's outgrown the kids' tools). Proper tools for proper workers. Not the bendy, brightly-coloured junk that is easier to find. My children love the feel of soil - if they don't kit them out in proper kids rigger-style gloves. That's what I'd call a sound investment!

Discuss this blog post

Talkback: Gardening with children
Your comment will appear after a quick registration step

Gardeners' World Web User 19/04/2008 at 22:54

Answer to Penny, My students absolutely love growing vegetables, but they like to take responsibility for their own plants (ie, these broad beans were planted by William and Jacob and so they are the ones to tie them in and pick them). Ownership apears to be important to them. I have involved them in planning the layout of the garden, designing on squared paper, measuring, etc. and have made clear to them that although the garden is owned by the school, it belongs to the students. Knowing this, my students choose to give up their free lunch time to water the seedlings in the greenhouse, and have even asked for the shed key to tidy it! Now that is rare and wonderful!!! Good luck with your students. I think all children, of all ages, will love gardening if encouraged and alowed to do it for themselves without to much pressure. My guys come up some odd ideas that don't always work, but they are keen to try. They will learn through their own experiences. Also, I try to make light of any mis-haps or failures. In the cold times we do indoor planting, bench and staging building, etc that takes us through the winter.

Gardeners' World Web User 29/04/2008 at 19:36

From a kids point of view i think that gardening is great and those Not the bendy, brightly-coloured junk is rubbish go for the real stuff

Gardeners' World Web User 27/05/2008 at 11:58

I have purchased a Jasmine and my son would like to know if it is possible for him to take a cutting from it to grow to give to his grandparents for a birthday present

Gardeners' World Web User 16/01/2009 at 12:49

I am currently working with children who don't always get the opportunity to take part in gardening activities at home, hence I have started a nurturing afternoon where we can all garden. The age range is 5 to 11, do you have any suggestions of how we can start and the best things to plant. Thanks.

Gardeners' World Web User 28/11/2011 at 18:31

Can you help - we are opening a new school in Oman and are planning our gardens - being in middle east very different planting of course. we are keen to develop projects that will involve the children. wish to set up a founders garden and would love any advice - we are keen novices.

See more comments...