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The Plant Stompers are Here!

All too often we discourage our children from being in the garden - a fragile plant is damaged, an arbour becomes a football goal, precious blooms are picked, borders are trampled. Plant stompers are everywhere. Yet children gain so much from gardening and, especially, from having their own garden.

Little ones are fascinated by, and love to pick, flowers!
Often we discourage children from being in the garden...Build on a child's curiosity and enthusiasm for doing something new to get them to experiment with growing plants and find out how they work.

Children learn effortlessly from the garden, and have fun finding out about plants, germination, soil, earthworms -they love to find earthworms. They observe birds, butterflies, bees and even pesky caterpillars at work. Carrots and strawberries, suddenly, grow and are not a supermarket product.

An easy planting project
Getting children interested in the garden is easy- especially if you have the space for their own plot. After suffering endless digging up of my treasures it was time to embark on a such a project.

Simon and Janie were really excited when we shopped for seeds at the plant nursery, they love choosing something for themselves in a store. Simon loved the bright colours of nasturtiums and Janie chose the pretty pink sweet peas. We went to the supplies area and found dinky little peat pots, seed raising soil and some heavy horticultural plastic.

At home we used the plastic to line two grocery cartons cut down so the sides were about 6-8cm high. These would hold the peat pots of plants.

Making the garden grow Best of all was getting wonderfully dirty and messy filling the peat pots with the soil- without being scolded. The challenging task was planting the seeds two to a pot. And then adding a few more when Mum wasn't looking.

Together we carefully watered the seeds and left them in full light to germinate. After ten days we had wonderful fat, green shoots to the amazement and pride of the new gardeners.

Together we prepared the ground in their plot, a strip against the warm garage wall, clearing it of weeds and digging it over. About two weeks after the seeds had germinated, Simon and Janie planted the little peat pots of plants directly into the soil.

With plenty of attention and water the seeds grew. There was lots of fun stringing up the sweet peas, inadvertently breaking a few as well. Soon the buds began to form and before long the kids had flowers to pick- lots of them, day after day.

Sun is essentialIdeas for Gardens
Our garden was simple and easy. You can make a larger children's garden with a sandbox or club-house as its centre-piece, borders of flowers or vegetables around it, even add a picket fence.

Sun is essential in a child's garden- if it's dank and gloomy kids will not spend time in it. They'll retreat to the comfort of the TV. Wouldn't you? In hotter climates and for mid-summer sun-protection, however, the sand box and garden will both need some shade. A simple awning or a tree can easily provide this.

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Last revised 29 Feb '00