Welcome to week 4 of my Get in Your Garden! Guest post series. The weather has been glorious the last few days and it’s a great time to get the kids away from the TV, laptop or whatever electronic device that has their attention , and get them out into the garden. If you need more inspiration why you and the rest of the family should spend more time outside then read on………
Get in Your Garden! Guest Post Series #4
This weeks guest post is bough to you by Ciar who is a writer and a mum with a passion for gardening, and writes over on her family gardening blog Carrots and Calendula. She, like me wants to encourage her kids to spend more time being active and outside than cooped up inside in front of the box. So i’ll hand over to Ciar ….
Hi, I’m Ciar, a writer and a mum of three (plus two hungry guinea pigs) which doesn’t leave me with anywhere near as much time as I would like to pursue my passion for gardening. My offspring (aka the Little Weeds) would usually rather stare at a screen than join me in the great outdoors, unless it’s to play a dangerous sounding game on the trampoline (crack the egg anyone?). I want to change that and have a year (hopefully more) of living wholesomely – spending more time outside, growing our own fruit, veg and flowers and creating fantastic places to work, rest and play in our newish back garden.
Switch Off Your Tablet and Go Out and Do Something Less Boring Instead
“Mum, can I have your iPad?”
“But it’s a beautiful day, why don’t you come out into the garden and help me?”
“I don’t want to do weird digging. Can I bring your iPad outside?”
This is a typical conversation with my eight-and-a-half-going-on-13-year-old. When I was a child, one of my favourite TV programmes was called “Why Don’t You Just Switch Off Your Television Set and Go Out and Do Something Less Boring Instead?” These days you could swap the word ‘television’ for ‘iPad’ or ‘tablet’.
Her younger siblings aged six and three are happier to come outside and potter around with me, although their idea of digging is not quite the same as mine. With recent research showing that activity levels in children are now declining earlier than thought, I am determined that my brood should get more than the required hour of exercise a day. While they go swimming and cycling and walk to and from school, I believe that being out in the garden is good for the body and soul, whatever age you are.
I vividly remember my mother telling me I had to stay out in the garden until it was time for tea. If I tried this my kids would accuse me of child cruelty, so instead I am trying to persuade them outside by making the garden an appealing place to be. We have a trampoline, a slide, a beautiful oak swing from Sitting Spiritually – a sixth birthday present for my younger daughter – and a sandpit, all of which they love to play on or in.
I also want to encourage them to grow, both flowers for pleasure and vegetables which have the added benefit of inspiring them to eat more fresh stuff. There is nothing quite like picking your own sweet tomatoes or juicy strawberries, or the pleasure of shelling broad beans (even if you are a bit unsure about eating them afterwards). There are some great children’s seeds on the market with fun illustrations on the packets to get kids excited about sowing and growing.
We have created a vegetable patch in our newish garden (we moved in May 2016, so this is our first full growing season) which I am enlisting the children’s help with. We have already planted some broad beans and we will soon sow some carrots and calendula after the name of my blog! The children also have their own patches to have a go at growing at the back of the garden where it doesn’t matter if the results are not perfect. We have had great fun starting to dig this area over with child-sized gardening tools (although the three-year-old would far rather use my adult-sized trowel).
Their patches are just in front of a shady raised bed that we are turning into a den, using the wood from my son’s old cot as railings. My plan is to paint these duck egg blue and add bunting so that my daughters will want to go there with their friends. My oldest daughter is a fan of looking up pictures of delightful dens on Pinterest for inspiration (under my supervision of course – tablets have their uses). Ours still has some way to go!
When I was a young child we spent our weekends in rural Shropshire where my parents emulated the self-sufficient lifestyle of Tom and Barbara Good in the TV sitcom The Good Life. We had three-quarters of an acre on the edge of a vast field and I was given my own flower patch, where I grew snapdragons and candytuft. I also spent hours in a large sandpit that my dad built for me, but most of all I just enjoyed being outside and roaming around the garden, vegetable plot and damson orchard playing imaginative games. It wasn’t until I was in my early 30s with a garden of my own that I really became interested in gardening and went on to study horticulture. However, I think I was inspired by that early freedom. Here I am in the garden, aged about one.
We shouldn’t put too much pressure on children to “garden”, although they can enjoy the occasional structured project like digging over a bed or painting a flower pot. Instead we should gently coax them outside, giving them opportunities to pick fruit and vegetables and get soil under their finger nails, and hopefully inspiring a love of plants which will stay with them all their lives.
Thank you so much Ciar, some great ideas and hopefully some inspiration to get your kids involved in enjoying the garden.
If you are enjoying this series, don’t forget to fill in your e-mail address and I’ll let you when a new post is published. If you would like to feature in this series, then please get in it touch!