****This is a guest post by Cher Zevala from Seek Visibility. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are of the author’s****
Green, growing things are a miracle. Some grown-ups might take it all for granted, but to a child, it’s astonishing that a blade of grass, a flower, or a whole carrot can spring from a tiny seed. Especially if you’re an avid gardener yourself, you know that giving your child the gift of loving and understanding nature is one that will last a lifetime. And, not to be sneaky about it, it’s also a great way to get yourself a little help.gardener yourself, you know that giving your child the gift of loving and understanding nature is one that will last a lifetime. And, not to be sneaky about it, it’s also a great way to get yourself a little help.
Get Your Kids Started With Gardening
The trick is not to make it it a chore. Young kids love digging in the dirt anyway — and there’s nothing more deeply satisfying for a three-year old than making mud — so take advantage of your child’s natural inclinations to have him or her assist in seeding and watering. Even pulling weeds can be fun if it’s not presented as punishment.
When it comes to your lawn, though, you do want to exercise caution. Lawn care is both science and art, and takes knowledge to pull off properly. But whether you do it yourself or use professional lawn care in Dallas there are some things an older child can help with.
Mowing the lawn, for example, is a time-honored assignment for a child old enough to handle the equipment; just supervise and make sure the mower’s blades are sharp and at the right height for cutting the appropriate amount off the blades. (That amount, by the way, should be about one third of the recommended height for the variety of grass in your lawn. Cut any more and you’re robbing the grass blades of the nutrients they need to grow and thrive.)
Here are some great starter activities for introducing your child to the joys of gardening:
Plant a Salad
Even the most reluctant salad-eater will be enticed by the idea of growing everything that’s in it. Most fruits and vegetables are planted outside in early spring and can fill a salad bowl through the summer and early fall, but some can be grown inside in winter, too.
Tomatoes are lots of fun to grow because they take off quickly and produce for months. Best to buy young plants that have already gotten a good start. Depending upon where you live, they’re available in nurseries from late winter through spring. There are hundreds of varieties, but a child might be most intrigued by little cherry tomatoes they can pop off the vine and eat in one bite.
Cucumbers come in either bush or vining varieties, and can easily be grown from seed. You only need a plant or two because they’re very prolific.
Lettuce, spinach, kale, and other leafy vegetables can be grown nearly year-round in some climates. You can start the seeds indoors for a head start in colder areas.
Strawberries are a crop that kids love. You can plant them directly in the ground or in containers especially made for them.
Grow Giant Sunflowers
Some varieties of sunflowers are as short as a few feet, and some grow to over 15 feet tall to tower over a young gardener. They’re easy to grow, and once they mature, there will be plenty of seeds to feed the birds and to toast for human munching, too.
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Start a Quick-Growing Flower Garden
Patience isn’t generally a childhood virtue, so flowers that begin to grow quickly are top of the list for youngsters. Here are some types that are speedier than others:
Marigolds. These sunny flowers germinate in just a few days and blossom only 45 to 50 days after planting. You can buy pots of them already blooming, of course, but where’s the fun in that?
Zinnias. Some may germinate only three to five days after you plant them. It can take them 75 to 90 days to flower, but in the meantime, it’s nice to watch them grow more and more every day.
California poppies. While these take about three weeks to germinate, they flower within 60 days. They come in a crayon-box of colors and are enchanting to watch waving in a breeze.
Nasturtiums. Not only are nasturtiums pretty, but they attract hummingbirds and can also be used in salads or to top a special dessert. They have large seeds good for small hands to plant, germinate in 10 to 14 days, and bloom within 35 to 52 days after that.
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