Gardening for Little Learners and What to Watch Out For


Above: the attractive-looking berries of Tutsan (Hypericum androsaemum are actually poisonous. It should be remembered that wild places and gardens may continue serious hazards to the unwary.

Playing in the dirt and feeling important are two things small children love. Why not give them the opportunity
to experience both by giving them their very own spot in the garden? By designating a small section of
garden as a "kids' space," adults can provide children ample opportunities to get their hands dirty and maybe
even produce some veggies worthy of a spot at the dinner table.

Seeds for gardening can be purchased in a number of places including local nurseries, home stores and
online florists. Choosing a variety of vegetables, flowers and gourds will give budding gardeners a range of
gardening experience and a plethora of garden color. The first step is to pick a place to purchase seeds and
plants. A trip to the store to choose seed packets can be fun for kids, but purchasing through an online florist
is as simple as a few clicks on the computer. The ease of doorstep seed packet and flower delivery from
online florists cut down on the front-end work required to start a garden.

There are countless varieties of garden plants. To narrow choices for a child's garden, it is beneficial to think
on a kid's level. Kids in general are not known for their patience, so choosing quick growing vegetables is
wise. Baby carrots, lettuce, spinach, bush beans, snap peas and radishes are all fast growers. Snap peas
and carrots are also fun to harvest and can be quickly rinsed off and eaten as a snack.

It is also a smart move to choose flowers that are kid-friendly and easy to grow. Sunflowers are the giants of
the garden. Kids love to watch these plants grow taller and taller. Once the flowers wilt, the seed-heads can
be dried out to make birdseed. Zinnias produce vibrant color, mature fast, and are resistant to summer heat.
In addition, zinnias attract butterflies, adding even more natural beauty to a garden. Sweet peas are also
kid-friendly. Not only do they have large seeds that are easy for kids to handle, but they produce oodles of
flowers and a sweet aroma. All three of these fun flower varieties are readily available through online florists
for home delivery.

Once the plants have been chosen and purchased, it's time to let the children go to work. Miniature shovels,
gloves, rakes, and garden tools can be found in most places that sell gardening items. In some instances,
they can also be ordered online to be shipped to your home alongside an online flower delivery. It's important
to make sure children use tools that are made for small hands to avoid injuries that might incur if they use
something too heavy or large for them to handle. If a small shovel is not available, an old heavy-duty kitchen
spoon will do the trick. Kids can dig their own holes and plant their own seeds. After planting is complete, the
children can have fun making labels attached to a small stake or dowel to mark the spot of each type of plant
in the garden.

Planting seeds is exciting for kids, and watching the plants pop through the ground is fun, but watering and
weeding can be a chore. Because both must be done regularly and do not provide immediate gratification,
children can become bored. To ease the boredom and keep children on task, create a calendar or task list
that can be marked off as each chore is complete, giving them a sense of accomplishment. It is also a good
idea to limit the time spent tending the garden. Ten minutes of weeding may not seem like a lot to an adult
who is accustomed to gardening, but for a child it is plenty.

When gardening with kids it is also important to let go of any perfectionist tendencies. Kids may not plant in a
straight line. They may smash a few veggies and will probably step on some flowers. But even though
mistakes are inevitable, so is learning and having fun.

When vegetables are ripe and flowers are in full bloom, allow the children to be involved in picking them.
When children have ownership of a garden, they will be more likely to try vegetables they would have
otherwise avoided. They may even develop a love of fresh, homegrown veggies. It's possible they will also
develop a love of flowers. When given the opportunity to cut their own flowers, children with artistic leanings
may find a passion for floral arrangement. Some may even decide to put a smile on a neighbor's face by
doing a little door-to-door flower delivery.

Though there are countless benefits to introducing children to gardening, there are also things to watch out
for. Water features, for instance, can be a potential drowning hazard. Chemicals and weed killers can also
pose a danger. Transferred from plants to little fingers and from little fingers to mouths, chemicals can cause
bodily harm. In addition, some plants are poisonous and should be avoided.

Children should be taught not to eat any berries, leaves, or flowers unless an adult is with them and has
approved them. But even if the child knows what not to eat, it is safest to avoid planting anything potentially
hazardous. Planting things that are kid-friendly and avoiding poisonous flowers like wisteria, hydrangea, fox
glove, and azaleas will lead to a fun and educational gardening experience for children and adults alike.

For Little Gardeners

Beware: Poisonous Flowers and Plants

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