Quality Time: Gardening with the Kids in Your Balcony

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Quality Time: Gardening with the Kids in Your Balcony

Staff Writer · Jun 30, 2010

When it comes to the kinds of multitasking that are valuable in today’s modern world, gardening with kids can be high up on the list of items that will save a family time and money. More and more Americans are learning to grow some of their own food in order to cut grocery costs, get outdoor time, and provide family activities, all with the same simple use of a small family garden.

Fitting in Quality Time: Don’t Divide Activities

Some parents fall into the trap of thinking that most of their daily routine just doesn’t include their kids. Creative parents can benefit from putting simple activities together. Don’t think of small gardens as something that you need to do in addition to a daily 9-to-5 job, on your own. Realizing how children can help with household tasks, and the education they will get as a result, helps busy parents to get more out of their gardens.

Set-up: Assess Your Child’s Abilities

Depending on age and ability of your children, planting the garden may not be the right activity for them. Some parents want to do the set-up themselves to quickly get oriented in exactly how they will use a space. When you’re using a balcony or similar small space, that means you’re dealing with a lot of spatial limitations.

One way to solve the problem is with square foot gardening. This garden strategy uses square boxes instead of linear rows of plants to save space. There’s also less weeding involved. And children can enjoy more access to smaller square foot gardens. Plan the layout well, and you’ll have something your children will understand and learn to love.

Plant Education in the Home Garden

Every year, agricultural volunteers take children from the cities and suburban areas of the country and trucks them to farms to show them how vegetable cultivation works. With a home garden, you can accomplish this on your own. For some ages of children, it might help to use additional labeling and signage in your garden in order to help them quickly identify different types of plants. As kids stay engaged in routine activities like weeding, irrigation and pest control, they can get a first-hand look at the stages that plants go through. This kind of education will serve them well later in life, and it can be a lot of fun, too. While working in the garden, you may want to play guessing games with your kids to see how well they are identifying the different crops, and what they are learning about caring for plants.

Harvesting

With a home garden, the learning doesn’t end when the plants come off of the vine. Let kids help with harvesting as much as possible, so that they can get their hands on the fruits and vegetables that they have helped to grow. It also helps to show your kids various methods of preservation and storage for foods, so that later on, they can build on that knowledge with their own home gardens.

All in all, teaching your children about small space gardening will empower them to do their own planting someday, even when they are in transition in apartment spaces. Small space gardening is a growing practice in today’s world that helps communities balance their dietary needs and become more self-reliant. Letting your kids be a part of this is a priceless lesson for them.

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