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Youngsters in the yard

The recent drought taught most of us the importance of sustainable gardening  – where water restrictions meant a change in how we maintain our gardens.

Inviting children into the garden can have many benefits.  They will be spending quality time with family and friends, learning responsibility and the value of patience, adopting a positive attitude towards the environment and appreciating nature and the great outdoors.

A child’s contribution to your garden can be as little as a bucket containing seedlings or a designated patch in your yard.  Gain their interest by teaching them how to grow their favourite foods and then moving on to vegetables they may like to try for the first time because they have nurtured and produced them.

You can introduce them to the benefits of companion planting using echinacea, dill, coriander or marigolds to deter insects from bothering their newly planted seedlings.  To satisfy inquisitive young minds, try planting safe and edible varieties including some varieties of violets, nasturtiums or geraniums.

To keep them interested, try growing sunflowers – they are fast growing additions which will keep your children focused while slower growing plants flourish.  Show them how to prepare the soil with a compost mixture, then place five to ten sunflower seeds just under the surface and water gently.  Try removing weaker looking foliage when the sunflower begins to grow.  This will ensure the stronger plants can take up the soil’s nutrients to continue their vibrant growth.  Some can grow to three metres high so check with your local garden centre on the availability of smaller varieties.

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