Stillwater News Press

Garden

May 31, 2014

Grow! 06-01-14

Kids’ learning can continue in garden

Just because school is out for the summer doesn’t mean learning has to take a vacation. Take advantage of this time to help your children develop new skills in the garden.

Gardening is enjoyable for all ages, but children especially will have a lot of fun and learn things that will be beneficial in all parts of their lives, such as responsibility, self-confidence and creativity. They’ll also develop a love of nature and can get a better grasp on good nutrition by planting various fruits and vegetables.

To begin with, let older children be part of the planning and design of the garden. Keep in mind for children just starting out in gardening, it’s best to keep it simple. Give your kiddos their own small plot, or even simpler, a few containers on the patio. Let them go with you to the garden center to pick out starter plants. It’s always a good idea to begin with some fruits and vegetables you know they like, but don’t be afraid to branch out and let them grow some new things, too.

Sometimes children aren’t very receptive to trying new fruits and vegetables you bring home from the grocery store or farmers market, but they might be pretty excited about trying new things if they get to grow things in their own garden.

Children aren’t necessarily known for having a lot of patience either, so try to pick out a few fast-growing plants such as sunflowers, corn and pumpkins. This will help them quickly see the results of their efforts.

Something else to consider is using varieties of plants that have sensory and textural qualities. Woolly lamb’s ear and succulents such as aloe vera are great for touch. For taste, think about planting basil, strawberries or cherry tomatoes. Sweet peas, jasmine or lemon balm will definitely pique the sense of smell. Brightly colored plants such as daffodils or rainbow chard are visually pleasing. For the sense of sound, consider corn, bamboo or various grasses that rustle against each other in a gentle Oklahoma wind.

On June 7, we’ll be featuring My Vegetable Garden as part of the Children’s Adventure Program at The Botanic Garden at Oklahoma State University. This particular session will find the kids getting their hands dirty as they help plant vegetables at TBG. They’ll also get to take some seeds to plant in their own garden at home. There is a $5 registration fee for the Children’s Adventure Program. For more information, contact Laura Payne at 405-744-4531, or via email at laura.pay-ne@okstate.edu.

Kimberly Toscano is assistant extension specialist and host of the OETA television program Oklahoma Gardening, which airs at 11 a.m. Saturdays and 3:30 p.m. Sundays, and assistant director of The Botanic Garden at Oklahoma State University.

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