Encouraging Little Green Fingers

If you’re struggling to find a way to get your little ones away from the television or tablet screen, this fun activity will help get them outdoors and into nature. Here are some easy tips on how to create a little vegetable patch with your child.

Side note: Kids of any age will love this activity, even toddlers! All they’ll need is a little wheelbarrow, a spade, a watering can and some gloves that have been softened with fabric conditioner.

Step 1:

Let your child help you choose a suitable patch in the garden. Keeping them included from the start will keep them excited about your project. When choosing your little patch of space, you can go for one of the following options:

  • A rectangular patch that is roughly one square metre in size works really well.
  • You can purchase assorted containers and pots for planting various veggies and herbs. This also works well if you do not have actual grass and soil in your garden, and would like to start a garden project on your porch or balcony. On this note, there are lovely rectangular pots that are well-suited to growing small flowers and herbs.
  • Step 2:

    Choose your vegetables. You can either plant them from scratch, or as little seedlings. Either way, your little one is going to marvel at watching something so tiny sprout into life. Here are some great vegetables to add to your patch, and some tips on looking after them:

    • Mint: Mint is actually an herb, but also grows well and readily. It doesn’t need a lot of light, so it will grow well in the shadier corner of your patch. Mint likes moisture, so you can let your tot get enthusiastic with that watering can! It tends to grow quite readily and widely, so give it a good deal of its own space.
    • Cherry tomatoes: You can’t go wrong with cherry tomatoes. They’re super easy to grow and they’re yummy too! Cherry tomato plants grow vertically, so find some small sticks or a trellis at your local nursery to allow the vine to grow in an orderly fashion.
    • Radish: This is a delightful little veg to plant in your patch. They are extremely hardy and grow from seed to a full-fledged vegetable in just 6 weeks when watered regularly.
    • Beans are sure to produce and grow well with a bit of space around them.
    • Carrots are another very rewarding veggie! They grow well and can reach impressive sizes.
    • Broccoli: Maybe if they grow it themselves, more kids would be excited about eating it! Broccoli also does well in a vegetable patch. Broccoli plants do well in full sun throughout the day so ensure that you give them centre stage in your patch.
    • The nice thing about all of these veggies (and herbs) is that they can be planted straight from seeds without any prior incubation and transplantation. Buy some compost, gardening soil, seeds and all the other tools that you will need and start digging! You can also share your patch with some pretty flowers and other herbs. Speak to someone at your local nursery and find out which plants are easiest to tend and are more likely to flourish in the spot that you have chosen.

      Extra tips:

      1. Use raw wood to create little barriers so that each type of vegetable has its own ‘yard.’
      2. Wear the appropriate clothes. Wash your little ones’ material gardening gloves in your favourite fabric softener to ensure that their hands stay gently protected, and smell great too.
      3. Don’t forget sun protection – hats and repeated smears of a high-SPF sunscreen.
      4. Have fun making little signs indicating which vegetables are growing where.
      5. Most vegetables appreciate a good balance of sun and moisture. Ensure that you keep your new plants refreshing with regular watering and well-tended soil before planting. Make sure that every time you check on your plants is an important bonding moment, and teach your child about the various vegetables, how they grow and the different ways in which to cook with and use them.