There’s nothing kids love doing more than getting their hands dirty. Whether it’s raining or the sun is out, making mud pies or finding wriggly worms in the ground, it always puts a smile on their faces.
Now that the colder months are nearly upon us, encouraging kids to stay outside becomes more challenging. It’s also tricky to know what plants, fruits and vegetables are easy for kids to grow at this time of year. The good news is that there is so much you can do with them and there are so many resources available to help you do it.
Here are few tips and tricks from Planet Ark to keep your kids green this winter.
Seedsticks are ideal for little gardeners with big green thumbs. They’re seeds on biodegradable sticks and are ready to plant! Young kids love growing seeds but it’s often difficult to ‘pinch’ tiny seeds with little fingers without losing the seeds. Planting with Seedsticks is easy and fun for young learners and there is a range of native plants, vegies and herbs to choose from. We use Seedsticks every year for Schools Tree Day as they are an easy way to engage young kids in planting and growing seeds. Learn more about Seedsticks at www.seedsticks-treeday.com.au.
Fruits, Vegetables and Herbs
There are a number of fruits and vegetables that kids can plant that are hearty and grow quickly (that can’t be killed easily!) Depending on where you live in Australia, you can grow a variety of different fruits, herbs and vegies such as:
- If you live in coastal areas of Sydney and Victoria, oregano, parsley and spinach are best suited to those climates.
- If you happen to reside in cooler areas such as Melbourne or Tasmania, then beetroot, cabbage, carrot, lemongrass and potatoes are great to plant and cultivate.
- Broad beans, broccoli, celery or peas are great to plant in the colder months in Adelaide or Perth, and if you live in the tropics of northern Australia then consider looking at sewing chicory, fennel, garlic, radish and spinach. A planting guide by regional zones can be found here.
If you’re a first time gardener, then herbs are a great place to start. Herbs not only grow quickly and all year round, but they are ideal for kids and families who don’t have a lot of space or a big backyard, and because they grow so fast, kids get to see the results of their handy work fast! Herbs such as basil, oregano, mint and parsley also engage kids’ senses through how they smell and taste and can be used in cooking activities such as spaghetti, healthy dips or flavouring for water!
Do you remember when you were a kid and creating grass heads? They are the best outside gardening activity for kids, easy to do and provide endless entertainment (they are hilarious).
To create your own Grasshead family, all you need is a pair of mum’s old stockings, potting mix, grass seeds and any other crafts (such as eyes, pipe cleaner, non-toxic paint) you’d like to decorate them with. A great step-by-step video and print out guide can be found on the Bunnings website.
Native tree planting is an educational and great way to engage kids with the outdoors and there are many reasons why planting native plants that are local to your area is important.
A few benefits of planting natives include supporting native animals: birds, bats, possums, bees and snails and other wildlife, helping to provide habitat for threatened species and providing fresh air.
An Aussie Rambler is an optimal native Australian plant for kids to grow in their backyards. Also known as the ‘pig face plant’, they are tough and can tolerate heavier soils, frost and excess moisture. The Rambler is definitely an easy plant to grow as it’s practically indestructible and lives off natural rainfall.
If planting native plants is something you’re interested in doing with your family, contact your local council to find out what native plants can be grown in your area.
About the Author: Debbie Agnew is the National Tree Day Manager at Planet Ark
To find out more about National Tree Day, please visit treeday.planetark.org.