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Inspiring the green fingers of the next generation is always appealing and for many hobby growers, it is one of the reasons they started their first vegetable patch. It is the fond memories we have in family gardens that often foster a love of green things in later life, so it is important to get little ones into the garden early.

However, maintaining the balance between all the work that goes into a producing plot and entertaining gardeners in training can be tricky. So how do you foster a love of the outdoors while keeping your plot producing? Here are some easy wins for little gardeners.

Easy Wins

For anyone starting off – but especially people with short attention spans, easy-win plants are important measures of success. While these may not be the tastiest, prettiest, or most demanding crops, they are guaranteed to be rewarding and help spark a bit of gardening enthusiasm. Choosing a variety of easy crops, like tomatoes, salads and potatoes mean that children can have an active hand in planting, maintaining, and harvesting.

It doesn’t have to be all about veg, every garden needs pollinators and pollinators can be pretty. Choose bright coloured flowers that could spare a few blooms to be picked.

After Harvest Activities

While gardening is an enjoyable hobby, it also has some great outcomes, from delicious fruit, tastier than shop-bought, fresh veg you can pick at leisure or simply the knowledge that you know exactly how far your food has come. Getting children involved in post-harvest activities is a great way of showing the value of gardening.

This isn’t necessarily just cooking, it could be making jam or passata with a glut of fruit, distilling tonics or pickling. It is not just restricted to fruit and veg either, lavender flowers can be dried and other attractive flowers could be pressed, all of these activities children can share in.

Tool Talk

There is a joy to a brand new tool and you can pass on some of that enthusiasm to your little helpers. Brightly coloured and scaled to fit smaller hands, giving children a little responsibility for their tools and therefore some ownership and pride is a great way of stirring some enjoyment.

Get Competitive

Some people (and children) relish a competitive edge to get the best effort and there are plenty of things to get competitive about in the garden. Whether you are trying to grow the tallest sunflower, the biggest carrot or the heaviest cucumber, putting them in competition with adults is actually a great way of giving children a sense of control and importance, and a great way of associating growing things with autonomy.

What begins as a small competition can quickly become a family tradition, with grand prize-givings and friendly rivalries.

Make It Safe

You cannot spend all of your time in the garden worrying about what the children are up to and a certain amount of childproofing should be involved. Steep steps and water should always be off-limits but also poisonous plants should be inaccessible. That way, when a child is playing in the garden or allotment you can both relax and enjoy the experience, making it more positive all around.

Photo Credit: “grow, dernit!” by Daveybot, by theloushe