By Huw Richards
Close to half of Australian parents with children under 18 enjoy gardening as a way to relax, get some fresh air and physical activity and inspire their children to lead a healthy and active lifestyle. Huw Richards, gardener, author and 24-year-old leading gardening YouTuber shares his advice for how to encourage green fingers from an early age.
A survey commissioned by digital reading app Readly has revealed a resurgence in gardening for relaxation, fitness, and food, which in turn encourages a new generation of kids to get outdoors and get in touch with nature.
Up to 76% of Australians enjoy gardening as a leisurely pursuit with a markedly high uptake among Australians over 30. Gardening has many benefits not just for mental health but is also an opportunity for kids to learn where their food comes from.
Huw Richards, Readly gardening spokesperson, gives eight tricks for inspiring kids and families to get into gardening:
- Begin with a small garden plot or even container gardening. Let children have their own space to plant and care for their chosen plants. Give them ownership of this process to make them feel empowered and have a role in gardening.
- Create gardening activities that capture children’s interest. Consider themed gardens, such as a pizza garden with tomatoes and herbs, or a rainbow garden with plants of different colours.
- Encourage children to dig in the soil, plant seeds, and water their plants. All children love to dig so give them a space or pot and let them experience the joy of seeing their efforts result in growth and harvest.
- Get the children to pick a crop that most excites them to grow and give them everything they need to take responsibility for growing and caring for it. From blueberries to mint to lavender or flowers, let them experience the nurturing process!
- Show children the wonders of nature’s diversity and encourage them to try new foods based on what they have grown. They will taste even better if they have grown it!
- Use gardening as an opportunity to educate children about the importance of nature, ecosystems, and sustainable practices. Discuss concepts such as composting, water conservation, and beneficial insects, and explain how these contribute to a healthier environment.
- When the plants are ready for harvest, celebrate the achievement by preparing a meal together using the homegrown produce. Involve children in cooking or creating recipes using their harvested vegetables or herbs.
- Suggest easy crops that will yield well to begin with; peas and strawberries are two easy yet incredibly delicious crops to grow for children to snack on in the garden.
Whilst over half the population (54 percent) will be focussing on ‘maintaining’ their garden this year, 50 percent will plant and grow fruit and vegetables and 43 percent will plant ‘low cost’ plants and flowers.
And it’s not just about large spaces; gardening with kids can be on balconies, shared allotments or indoor plants too. 77% of Australians tend to plant in their gardens though houseplants are also popular with 33% of the population. A little over 1 in 5 Aussies enjoy caring for plants on their balconies as interest in houseplants and tiny gardens surges on social media.
There’s nothing quite like growing your own food; plants, herbs or anything that brings you joy. Your garden is a canvas which you can colour with your passions. With cost on the agenda this year, you may be surprised that salads are perhaps the best money-saving crop out there because they are incredibly productive on a small scale and can be continuously picked and eaten. If you are new to growing this season then now is the perfect time to get your hands dirty. The Readly app is a good place to start with lots of great gardening magazines to harvest your knowledge.
The top fruits and vegetables families will be growing at home this year are:
- Runner beans
The Readly app has a magazine or gardening article for every type of gardener. With over 7,000 titles as part of the unlimited digital reading subscription, it has hours of gardening inspiration and information.