Many lessons can be taught and learned when practicing certified organic seed gardening with children, including a deep appreciation for nature. One of the biggest problems for parents of young children is that they like to put everything into their mouths. Washing their hands and checking what they are eating is a constant chore for parents everywhere. This is part of the reason certified organic seed is the best choice when young children are present, as they don’t contain dangerous chemicals.
Set aside a small portion of the garden for children to plant their own certified organic seed and transplanted seedlings. Consider the following suggestions before choosing what to plant:
• Children are not familiar with the concept of time and will want to see quick results, even if they can’t eat them immediately; they need to see regular change. Plant part of the area with colorful Confetti radishes and Organic Greens Mesclun Mix, both of which can be planted early and will begin sprouting within 2-3 days.
• They also enjoy unique items, fruits and vegetables that are familiar but with something different. While traditional Swiss chard is a great addition to meals, kids will enjoy growing colorful Rainbow Chard Seeds, which can be eaten raw like celery, cooked like spinach, or used to add color to flower garden borders. Casper pumpkin seeds are a fun way to add ghostly color to the garden using heirloom seeds.
• Children love growing items which are very large or very small. Their sense of wonder when initially experiencing a common item at an extreme size is a joy for parents and grandparents. Atlantic Giant Pumpkin Seeds are the perfect suggestion, as they average 400-500 pounds, with an all-time record of 2009 pounds.
• Gourds are a great project item for children as they can be dried, made into birdhouses, and even painted. Squash can be grown for decoration and eaten throughout the year when stored in a cool dry area.
• Carefully consider the area where the children will plant their garden. They need to see success, so make sure it has good soil, adequate moisture and protection from extreme elements. Plant seeds and seedlings within the suggested package guidelines.
• Plan ahead for calamity. When working with young children, it is easy to replace a plant that is not doing well or has been uprooted with excess from your own garden.
• Explain to them what is being planted, how it grows and why you use certified organic seeds. This is the perfect time to bond and pass along important values.
Children’s minds are like sponges and they learn easily. Soaking seed in warm water, starting them in egg cartons and showing the progress every step of the way is a fun spring project.
Children will enjoy working in the garden when the project is broken into smaller chunks of time. Provide them with child-size or hand gardening tools, a few clean cans which have had sharp edges covered with tape, milk jugs and watering cans. Children gravitate to dirt, and of course also to what their parents are doing. With a little time and patience you can help nurture a lifelong appreciation of gardening and protecting nature through the use of sustainable certified organic seeds.