written by Janet Lee Harrold
Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed the rise of toddlers and young children on electronics? The other day while visiting the doctors office, I couldn’t help but notice that there were at least 3 children, all from different families that each had their moms cell phone. I am assuming they were playing games to keep themselves busy, maybe they were unaware that there were plenty of children’s books to read on the shelf above them or they somehow missed the cleverly designed Lego station that the other kids were enjoying. I’m not judging and I know there could be a number of reasons, including medical reasons that are not visible to others why they chose to play that afternoon on their phones instead of with the other children. But the fact remains that technology is the way of the world today and it’s o.k. that my 3 year old grandson knows more about the ipad than I do. But, this season I challenge you to take the electronic free challenge approach with your kids…
o.k. maybe electronic FREE is a little ambitious but taking some time to get the kids outside in the garden, digging in the dirt this season, I promise it will have more rewards than I can even mention. A little, sun, a little soil, a little fun and a little kid might be just the right mix for a perfect growing season. Despite the fact that we live in an electronic world, let’s help our kids remain kids and encourage them to get outside more and away from the computers, ipads and smartphones. Teach them the many wonders that mother nature has to offer, it doesn’t have to cost a lot just a bit of old fashioned responsibility and imagination. Let them reap and sow the rewards of their labor as they watch their very own garden grow. The hidden part of the equation is that they don’t even realize the valuable lessons that they are learning. The responsibility, nurturing and knowledge about where their food comes from is only the beginning. Start a vegetable garden and watch the smile on your child’s face when you send them out to pick a cucumber and a couple of cherry tomatoes for the evening dinner salad. If you don’t have the space for a large garden, no worries grab a pot and some cherry tomato seedlings. They’re amazingly easy to grow, and even one plant will bear a steady crop of bite-size fruits all season long!
Why not plant a kid friendly raised bed and plant colorful flowers that attract butterflies, hummingbird and other pollinators? A couple of good choices would be zinneas and marigolds. Use an organic approach-many pesticides are toxic, there is no need to use powerful poisons to protect your garden from insects and diseases.
The garden also provides a great way to teach kids about watering and planting. Building a fairy garden with objects found around your house and yard is a great way to have fun and bring a little creativity and sense of whimsy to your garden and the kids will love it! The whimsical addition to your outdoor space makes the perfect family project, it will keep the kids busy everyday and actively keep their imagination growing. I feel most of the fun is in the hunt, foraging for sticks, stones, pebbles and marbles is an ongoing process, they can even paint their own frog stools or fairy signs. Choosing a container to sprinkle your fairy dust in can be as simple as a clay pot or saucer as we have done here. On a larger scale, why not have a huge galvanized bucket that they can kneel and play at everyday?
For most children, being outside has many health benefits but actively gardening can also engage all of their senses, touching and feeling the dirt and seeds and smelling the flowers are just a few. Because the flowers and vegetables take time to grow, watering the garden teaches children patience and responsibility. Gardening also helps to encourage healthy eating and promotes trying new and different foods. It promotes family bonding, fine motor skills and so much more, but the benefit that I like most unlike the instant gratification that our children get from technology, is the wonderment on their little faces they experience the very first time they see the tomato ripen or that bud bloom!
So get your garden started and get your children involved and don’t forget we carry most of the fruits and vegetables that were mentioned right here at Cedar Grove Gardens!