Even if you don’t have the space for a ‘proper’ garden, indoor herb terrariums and flower box gardens can provide a splash of colour while bringing the outdoors inside and providing access to fresh herbs. There are so many benefits to creating a garden; as well as access to fresh herbs and vegetables, gardens encourage kids to spend active time outdoors learning about the environment and thinking about where their food comes from. There are many fun and educational activities that can be incorporated into creating and maintaining a garden. Gardens are a great way to learn about life cycles, ecosystems, and health. Maths, culture, and history can even work their way in.
There are a multitude of different things to consider when starting a garden. The main questions to ask yourself before you start are:
- How patient are you/your kids?
- How much space do you have?
- How much space do the plants you want to grow require?
- If you are renting, are you allowed to make changes to the yard?
- Do you need to protect your garden from animals (including pets)?
This blog will hopefully help you out with the first three questions. If you want more detailed advice, we’ve found the ABC’s gardening guide very helpful.
Plants take different amounts of time to germinate or produce a crop. While it is great to be able to teach your kids about the full life cycle of a plant, from a seed to something they can eat, this can take more time than children (or impatient adults!) are willing to spend. The amount of time a plant takes to produce results is an important thing to consider when growing plants in general but becomes even more important when you are trying to hold a child’s attention.
Starting with seedlings or cuttings from existing plants, rather than seeds, can give kids something to focus on from the beginning. In some cases, you can even use vegetables from the grocery store to grow a new plant (as anyone who has left a potato in the cupboard too long knows).
If your home has little to no outdoor area, you can bring the outdoors in. Herbs are simple to grow, and when grown in pots they don’t become too big either. Growing plants in pots or glass terrariums can also provide an opportunity to personalise your gardening experience.
If you have some balcony space, you can also create a vertical garden. There are many different ways to create a vertical garden, from buying ready-to-go kits online to DIY-ing something out of old wooden crates and a ladder. Hanging planters can also be a good alternative.
Here’s a list of our favourite easy to grow herbs for small spaces:
If you only have a small garden or are renting a property that you aren’t allowed to alter, planters are going to be your new best friend. Most large containers can be transformed into a mini garden. From wheelbarrows to wine barrels see how creative you and your kids can get. Most hardware stores also provide a variety of basic planters of varying shapes and sizes for you and your kids to decorate. As well as preventing plants from taking over a garden, planters will also allow you to take plants with you if you move.
Trellises can also be easily bought or made for plants like tomatoes and beans which grow up rather than out. Trellis veggies are excellent for smaller gardens, and if you get a bit creative, you can even take them with you when you move. Planters and trellises also provide the flexibility of transplanting them to a more permanent garden situation if the opportunity arises.
Some veggies that grow well in these conditions include:
- Greens (spinach, lettuce, chard)
- Onions (especially spring onions)
- Snap Peas
- Tomatoes/Cherry Tomatoes
Some vegetables, and most fruits, require a lot of space. Many of them also take more time to flourish and would be better suited to older children and families that own their home or are allowed to tear up the backyard. As well as extra space, these plants often require more extensive soil conditioning and space for their roots to spread. However, it is incredibly satisfying to walk into your garden and gather fresh vegetables of all kinds to cook with.
With space and patience, your options are virtually unlimited, but some of our favourite suggestions for large gardens are:
- Fruit Trees
BONUS: Edible Flowers
Most people plant flowers for their beauty, but they can also be eaten. They provide fun garnishes and can be used to add flavour and colour to most dishes. It is crucial only to use flowers that are specifically grown for consumption.
Our favourites are: