Children have a natural fascination with growing things. You can foster that natural interest by introducing them to organic gardening. Here are some ideas for participating with your kids in the organic garden.
1. Start small, and maybe even indoors. Sprout alfalfa seeds, chives, or other easy-growers in the window sill.
2. Consider container gardening for your child’s first outdoor organic garden. Container gardening is very flexible, and lends itself easily to organic methods. Tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, and other vegetables can be grown in containers. Many flowers and herbs do well in pots as well. Because the plants are contained, problems like insects and weeds are easier to manage by organic means.
3. Discuss the “poisons” that are put on plants when non-organic gardening practices are used. Depending on the age of the child, you can go into the effects of these poisons on animals and people. Point out how your child can touch the plants and put his or her hands in the soil without fear of getting poisons on them.
4. Foster an appreciation of “good” bugs in the garden. Children sometimes view all bugs as scary or yucky, but since they are an important component of organic gardening, teach your children about how beneficial they are. Consider investing in a small habitat where your child can capture an insect and observe it – commercial “bug vacuums” are great for this.
5. Check out books at the library about organic gardening and beneficial insects.
6. Involve your child in organic methods of weed and insect control. Introduce the concept of simply pulling weeds and digging them out rather than spraying them with herbicide. Show your child how easy it is to mix up a soap insecticide using the dish soap you normally get on your hands (1-2 teaspoons per quart of water). No need to fear getting that on your skin!
7. If you are growing food, involve your child in the preparation of it. Let him or her pick ripe tomatoes, corn, herbs, and so forth to bring to the table. Point out the fact that you need only rinse the food, because you know there are no poisons on it.
8. If you are growing flowers, visit your local library or go online for ideas for nature crafts. Your budding organic gardener might enjoy pressing flowers, making bouquets, or weaving flower wreaths. You can make fun animal shapes with certain flower’s seed pods. There are a great many possibilities for using your garden flowers and plants creatively.
9. Visit an organic farm for inspiration. Let your child see how big and productive organic farming (and gardening!) can be.
10. Start or visit an organic community garden in your area. This is a wonderful way for your child to get involved in the community and make friends who have similar interests.