Children’s gardens are designed to bring curiosity and fun into the eyes of the little ones. Teachers and parents often use this technique to bring children closer to the world of nature, which is so fascinating and full of wonders to discover.
In this article, we will try to understand together what it really means to build a miniature garden and how to involve children in the care of a vegetable garden, showing them the right way to take care of new seedlings.
With a little bit of hard work and perseverance, you will soon discover that a vegetable garden is full of surprises and can benefit both you and the children involved.
These simple ideas for children’s vegetable gardens are just what you need to start having fun together. Let’s get started!
How to create a children’s vegetable garden
Understanding how to start a children’s vegetable garden may seem complex. You may find yourself wondering how to teach children how to grow a vegetable garden and what basic steps to follow to create a smart and lasting arrangement.
To help you resolve any initial doubts, we have prepared a step-by-step list with some basic steps for starting a children’s vegetable garden. Let’s look specifically at what we need and how to get started:
- Choose the right place:
The first step in building a functional children’s vegetable garden is to choose the right space. If you have a garden, opt for an area with a good exposure to the sun, capable of giving the new seedlings the right level of exposure (between 6 and 8 hours of light per day);
- Prepare the soil:
If you have chosen to create a vegetable garden in the garden, make sure that the soil is fertile and free of weeds. If, on the other hand, you have opted for pots or crates, fill them with good quality potting soil;
- Gardening tools for children:
Before you start planting, take care of the purchase of gardening tools for children. Small rakes, trowels and a watering can are perfect for involving them in the garden work, along with gardening gloves;
- Plant new seeds:
Level the soil with the help of the rake (the children can easily help you with this step) and use the back of the trowel to create small holes ready to accommodate the seeds. Let the children do the sowing themselves, assigning each one a handful of seeds;
Always try to involve the children in the garden activities, making sure that they actively participate in all stages – from sowing to harvesting the fruit. In this way, they will develop a deeper connection with the plants.
At the same time, use the garden as a valuable opportunity to teach children more about plant growth cycles, photosynthesis and the importance of water and sun for growth. When the plants start to bear fruit, celebrate the success of the garden together. Prepare a tasty salad with the ingredients grown together to eat together.
Children’s balcony vegetable gardens
If you are wondering whether it is possible to create a children’s vegetable garden even in limited space, the answer is absolutely yes. Even if you do not have a lot of outdoor space, there are several options that still allow you to grow a small, fun and educational vegetable garden.
The most effective method is to build a classic children’s vegetable garden on the terrace/balcony. Using pots, containers or crates, it is indeed possible to create a lush but space-saving vegetable garden. Given the variety of plants available, this kind of garden is well suited to growing herbs, small fruits and vegetables of various sizes.
The same goes for those who choose to create a small vertical vegetable garden. Making use of vertical space is always a good idea, especially when we aim to grow climbing plants such as beans, peas, tomatoes or strawberries. In this case, the tools needed are hanging structures, grids or growing walls.
Fortunately, there are plenty of objects that can be transformed into ‘pots’ ready to accommodate new seedlings. If you are passionate about recycling and want to involve children in an educational and fun activity, you can consider using recycled objects such as plastic bottles, cardboard boxes, or pallets to create containers or structures for the vegetable garden.
If space is even more limited and you can only place the vegetable garden indoors, think about building a mini home vegetable garden. In previous articles, we have talked about miniature vegetable gardens, which can be placed on windowsills. In these cases, the cultivation of herbs such as basil, parsley, thyme, mint or rosemary is the most recommended; quick and suitable even for small children.
With a little creativity and planning, it is possible to create a fun and educational vegetable garden even in limited space, while still offering children the opportunity to learn and have fun growing plants.
Easy plants to grow with children
What types of plants are suitable for children’s gardens?
There are many plants suitable for children’s gardens, and the choice also depends on the season, climate and personal preferences. As a general rule, it is always recommended to grow ‘uncomplicated’ plants, which do not need too much attention and can grow easily.
Below is a handy list of plants that are easy to grow with children, and are very popular among young farmers and in schools that use the garden as a learning and fun activity. Let us look at them in detail:
Tomatoes are certainly easy plants for children to grow, offering visible, brightly coloured results within a few weeks. The only advice here is to be careful with the branches, which may break under the weight of the fruit, and remember to tie a support stick when the tomato starts to get too big;
Like tomatoes, strawberries are also distinguished by their bright colour and ease of growth. Not only that, they show children the different stages of development, from the initial white to the deep red of the final stage;
Basil is one of the easy herbs for children, characterised by fast growth and a very recognisable smell. If exposed to a good amount of light, basil continues to produce leaves almost all year round;
Fun to grow because children can dig for them underground, carrots are on the list of ideal plants for children’s gardens. Smaller or colourful varieties are particularly interesting for young children;
Courgette are robust plants that produce abundant fruit, encouraging children to watch their fast growth. They also do not need special care to grow strong and healthy;
Compared to many other vegetables, green beans are fun to grow because they grow quickly and vertically. In order to develop properly, however, they need special supports on which to climb;
Some salad varieties grow quickly and are ideal for teaching children about planting and the different stages of leaf growth. In addition, it can be fun to harvest the ripe heads and prepare fresh, healthy salads together;
Peas can also be easily planted in children’s gardens. The little ones can enjoy peeling the pods as soon as the plant becomes ripe enough;
Sunflowers, notoriously large and bright flowers, can be a fun addition to the children’s vegetable garden. Over the course of several days, the little ones can enjoy observing how sunflowers follow the sun during the day.
Always choose plants that can grow well in your climate zone and can adapt to the available space. Also, try to include unusual or colourful varieties to stimulate children’s curiosity and interest in growing plants.
Why create a children’s vegetable garden
What are the benefits of children’s gardens?
Compared to what one might think at first glance, there are many benefits associated with creating a vegetable garden for children. Let us take a look at some of the main benefits, which might encourage you to start this activity – at home or at school:
Growing a vegetable garden helps children better understand where food comes from and how fruit, vegetables and herbs grow. This increases their nutritional awareness and encourages them to make healthier food choices;
The garden provides a hands-on learning experience through observation and interaction with plants. Children learn the concepts of planting, growing, maintaining plants and harvesting produce;
- Development of motor skills:
Working in a vegetable garden involves physical activities such as digging, sowing, watering and harvesting the new fruits. All these activities help in the development of motor skills and hand-eye coordination;
Cultivating a vegetable garden allows children to develop a deeper connection with nature. This increases their environmental awareness and respect for the ecosystem;
- Promotion of responsibility:
Taking care of plants in a garden teaches children responsibility and the importance of devoting time and attention to grow something. Seeing the plants grow and produce fruit gratifies the children, teaching them the reward of hard work and patience;
The vegetable garden involves all the senses. Children can touch, smell, taste and see the plants and their fruits, thus enriching their sensory experience.
In addition, the vegetable garden can be an opportunity to teach children about scientific concepts such as photosynthesis, the plant life cycle and the ecosystem. Overall, the experience of cultivating a children’s garden offers numerous benefits that contribute to their cognitive, physical and emotional development.
There are many educational activities that can be carried out with children in a vegetable garden. A fun gardening experience for children is always a great way to bring them closer to nature and teach them to live in harmony with every creature in the ecosystem.
If you are thinking of creating a ‘school garden’, we recommend that you involve the children in sowing the seeds. Explain to them how to place the seeds in the soil or in pots and how to take care of the seedlings step by step.
During the growing process, you can observe and monitor the various stages of development together. Record the changes and progress of the plants – such as the growth of leaves, flowers and fruit – in a notebook. Or try to measure the height of the plants (weekly or monthly) and record the data. All these activities help children to make the experience more stimulating and fun, like a little weekly ‘challenge’.
You can also organise simple science experiments related to the garden. For example, you can examine the effect of sunlight or water on different plants, or study the germination of seeds under different conditions. Insects are a great ally in these situations, because children love to observe them closely and find out which species participate in the life of the garden.
All the information the children collect in the garden can then be recorded in a diary, with writing, drawings and pictures of the individual plants. Art projects are ideal to cultivate in the garden, in direct contact with nature.
Finally, it can be fun to think about involving children in simple recycling projects, which increase awareness and care for nature. It is not necessary to go too far, even the creation of a natural fertiliser for the garden produced through the use of food waste is enough (minimum effort and maximum yield!).
All the activities described not only teach children scientific and practical knowledge about growing plants, but also offer a fun way to stimulate their creativity and curiosity.