Getting the kids into gardening is a win-win situation for everyone; they get to play in the dirt and stay busy, and as parents, we can subtly start implanting the idea that vegetables are, in fact, interesting and very cool. Michelle Hong, co-founder of Rooftop Republic, says that there’s also a myriad of benefits for children who pick up a hand trowel early on.
“Nature is a wonderful teacher, and gardening provides an all-round learning experience – from science, language, biology, even design.”
If you’re keen to get the littles hooked on gardening, here are a few tips that Hong says help to keep kids engaged:
Start small (and short)
Start with plants from seed that have a short growing cycle, such as microgreens, that can be sprouted and harvested in 7-10 days. This helps young kids to focus on the reward of the harvest. Microgreens are also relatively low-maintenance, so you don’t have to worry too much about them. Ask your child to dampen the soil daily with a spray bottle.
Grow what you know you love
Grow things that your kids already enjoy eating. Some varieties such as carrots and broccoli take a long time to grow and require quite a bit of space, but leafy greens such as spinach, lettuce and herbs grow well in a pot and will be perfect for compact spaces.
Put food scraps to good use
Experiment with cuttings, seeds and stones from the produce you buy in shops. Pineapple plants can grow from the top cutting of the fruit, while you can grow an avocado tree by sticking cocktail sticks in the sides of the stone and placing it over a jar of water. Be patient though – it can take a few weeks to sprout!
Read up on your crops
Do your research. Take time to learn about what conditions each plant needs to thrive. Engage older children to help with some online research.
Find your community
Join a family planting workshop – kids will enjoy planting with new friends they make, and with extra games and support, it makes light work of time in the garden patch.
Read more: Urban Farming in Hong Kong