Get the (green) thumbs up: things to do with kids in the garden

It may be coming into the cooler months but that doesn't mean there aren't things to be for kids in the garden!

We've got five gardening suggestions to encourage you and the kids to get outside, get your hands dirty and hopefully start cultivating some little green thumbs in the process!

  1. Grow your own fresh herbs - Starting a herb garden is a great way to get the kids into gardening. They’ll learn new skills, have fun and develop a sense of ownership and responsibility. The best part is, herbs aren’t that difficult to maintain even for the littlest or newest of gardeners. All you really need is sunshine, water and good soil. Plus, you don’t need a huge space and can grow herbs in pots, raised garden beds, window boxes or other containers (see tip 3). Just make sure whatever you choose has good drainage. We suggest starting with perennial herb seedlings from your local nursery or farmer’s market as these should last for several years and give you a continuous harvest for your kitchen. Why not try mint, rosemary, chives, sage and oregano to build up the kid’s gardening confidence.
  2. Build your own worm farm – A worm farm is a fantastic way to minimise food waste and fertilise the garden all at once! Younger children love showing they can be just as “grown up” as mum and dad so a worm farm gives them the opportunity to look after their new little friends while learning about their environment. You could create a wall chart showing the type of food worms love as well as things that worms just don’t like! You may find some kids take this responsibility very seriously so keep watch in case your little one tries to share an apple with them when your back’s turned! Worm farms can also vary in size depending on the space available or your household and gardening needs. The best thing about a worm farm is that it can be made out of recycled materials (like an old drawer), polystyrene boxes or purpose built containers, but with so much to choose from we recommend researching what kind of worm farm will suit your family before starting this project.
  3. Make your own planters – Customised planters for your herbs, vegetables or colourful blooms are a great way to extend gardening activities! Whether you’re painting terracotta pots or using recycled materials like old gumboots, milk crates or even old bathtubs it gives the kids a chance to see their masterpieces in action! If the adults want to get in on the creative fun you could try your hand at a hanging planter! We suggest filling your new planters with cheerful and easy to grow flowers like pansies, daisies, marigolds or sunflowers (probably best to keep sunflowers in bigger pots on the ground). These easy to grow, hardy flowers will give you an endless supply of flowers and come in a range of colours so the kids can pick their favourites.
  4. Set up a chicken coop – It’s becoming increasingly popular to keep a few chickens in the backyard! Not only do they make great family pets but they’ll provide you with a constant supply of fresh eggs, fertilise your garden and help out with the garden chores by eating weeds, aerating soil and dining on pesky insects. Check out www.livinggreener.com.au for more tips on chook requirements and ongoing care.
  5. Start a beehive – As weird as it sounds, ‘urban beekeeping’ is a growing trend, especially in Victoria. There are definitely some benefits to backyard beekeeping including the fresh honey they produce, but did you know they will help your vegetables, flowers and other plants thrive! Beekeeping will require research about what is and isn’t allowed in your area and what you need to start and maintain your hives but it could be a very rewarding hobby. It’s probably something that would be better suited to a family with older children or perhaps grandparents who have the kids around occasionally as unlike worm farms or chook pens, bees are very cuddly. You should also speak with your GP to ensure no one in the household has an unknown allergy to them.

What are your tips for getting the family outside and involved in the garden?