How to get your grandchildren into gardening

How to get your grandchildren into gardening
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Do your grandchildren know where their food comes from? A recent study has showed that 25 per cent of children don't know ketchup comes from tomatoes, while one in five think oregano is an actor.

Although one in three kids admitted to being "frightened" of vegetables, the survey from self-watering planter brand Lechuza, in collaboration with the Brownies, found that three quarters say they'd be more likely to eat their greens if they grew theirs from scratch. Three in five also said they'd understand the health benefits of fruits and veg if they could get their hands in and pick their own.

So how can you encourage your little ones to muck in on the garden and enjoy the fruits of growing their own?

Jean Vernon, Gardening Correspondent for The Daily Telegraph and Lechuza has some top tips to get them involved, however big your plot.

Make it fun

The great outdoors is a great place for children to learn, play and get up close and personal with nature. And if they make happy memories with gardening and plants at an early age, they're much more likely to enjoy it later in life too.

So the key is to make lots of fun for them. Choose to grow things that they love to eat as well as flowers that will attract butterflies and other creatures. Herbs that smell nice and can be instantly tried and tasted, like mint, also help make the experience even more interesting for them.

Keep it quick

Although sowing from seed is usually cheapest and can be exciting, not all children will have the patience to wait for seeds to start sprouting. So you may find it easier to buy ready grown plants to save time and keep them keen, especially if gardening is still very new to them.

Look out for the pets

Help children to grow food for their pets, for example by growing fresh salad for rabbits and guinea pigs. A packet of lettuce seed will grow hundreds of plants, so sow a few seeds each week or fortnight and plant into your planter when they're large enough to handle.

Have a party

Host a garden party for the grandchildren and their friends so that they can share their new hobby with their mates. Buy some plants and compost and help them all to plant and grow together.

Leave it to them

Children like to have something that's entirely their own to look after so give them their own planter that they're responsible for looking after. Then oversee but try not to interfere. ‘Crop failures’ happen, even to experts. Choose easy plants for the next adventure and let them learn from mistakes.

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Rope in teddy

 Add a few toys to the mix to keep it fun. You can tie plastic toys to bamboo canes as cane toppers and push them into the compost to brighten things up or to mark where you’ve planted bulbs.

Make them chief waterer

Let children help to water the garden so that they learn how important it is to keep tending to and looking after their plants. Look to invest in a smaller watering can they can easily lift.

Ask the garden expert in your family to help

If gardening isn't really your thing and you're not too sure what to do, try team up with someone who knows a bit more so that they can share their passion with your little one. Maybe they have an aunt, a grandparent or a neighbour who would make a good garden buddy.

Encourage dirty hands

Don’t be scared of letting them get their hands dirty as most children love to get messy and it'll help make the experience all the more enjoyable. If you use fresh-bagged compost from the garden centre it should be clean and sterilised. Although do make sure that you and they have up to date tetanus immunisation. It’s a rare disease but it’s nasty if you get it. As long as your jabs are up-to-date you should be fine, but do check with your GP.

Get a mini kit

Children love to help out, but adult gardening tools often aren't going to be appropriate for them to use so buy them some children's gardening toys so that they can copy you in the garden. There are lots of kiddie’s tools from watering cans and the all-essential pint sized gardening gloves available in garden centres.

  • There's more gardening advice and grandparenting ideas in every issue of Yours magazine out every fortnight on a Tuesday.