Organic Gardening 101 with Kids
We are by no means experts, but here is what we do know… kids love gardening! With a few years practice we now have a method that works very well for us. Get started with these easy steps!
The first and often most difficult step, is to simply start gardening somewhere! Begin with a small area and make a garden plan. Draw a garden map with your child and incorporate their ideas right from the beginning. By involving them from the start kids feel a sense of ownership and will have a greater feeling of responsibility and pride when it comes to harvesting.
It’s also a great idea to join a community garden group or a Facebook community page, for tips and advice. In Dubai we follow the Dubai Gardening Group on Facebook for seasonal and climate appropriate information and queries. We also recommend you visit a garden in your community to chat with someone who knows what they are doing, and who might be able to offer any pearls of wisdom.
The key to a healthy garden in our opinion lies within the dirt! You could get technical and look at the PH levels and soil acidity but let’s face it, that starts to spoil the fun. What we do recommend, particularly from an organic point of view is a composting system called Bokashi. This can be sourced in most regions around the world, and here in Dubai it can be found online.
Another good link to check is companion planting. For example you need to know that potatoes don’t like cucumbers and broccoli is not a friend of the tomato plant. See this link for the chart that we follow.
Arm yourself with the right gardening equipment. Children love the responsibility of having gloves, watering cans, and gardening fork and spade so if you can, find a set that is their size. Collect your seeds and seedlings from local garden shops. Our favourite place to buy seedlings in Dubai is from the ‘plant souk’ in Warsan. Our recommendation with seeds is to look for heirloom varieties as the seeds from your crop can be used for the next year. Heirloom is a little difficult to find but worth the search as it is original and not genetically modified.
Then simply start planting! You’ll learn your own tricks along the way, each year will bring more success and hopefully more produce! Before long you’ll find less need to visit the fruit and veggie aisle in the supermarket and believe me that is an awesome feeling. We notice children’s opinions of veggies change and the reward of planting, growing then harvesting is great motivation to enjoy eating veggies as well.
Be prepared for a bug war along the way! Organic gardening means spending some time hunting for caterpillars that like to eat lettuce plants into oblivion or aphids that suck the life out of your cucumber or pumpkin patch. But children love to help with this, they will probably spot them quicker than you will. Check here for a list of organic pest control solutions that might come in handy. Also, plant some flowers like marigolds and sunflowers and this will bring in the happy honey bee and put some herbs in to deter the bad bugs.
Your garden will become a place to connect with your child. The discussions we have with our nursery children are amazing. Often people do not give young children enough credit with how capable the actually are. From as young as two and three children can get involved in watering, planting, weeding and bug hunting and the learning opportunities are endless!
Follow our Pinterest board on Organic Gardening with children, for interesting ideas that have inspired us along the way!
Happy planting and remember to enjoy the process as well as the product!