This Earth Day, Pass Down a Love of Nature
Every April 22 we celebrate Earth Day worldwide to raise awareness of environmental issues. It’s a day set aside to remind us of how our behavior impacts the world around us in ways both big and small. It’s also an opportunity to teach the kids in our lives to respect and appreciate the natural world around them! Instilling these values at a young age will help them become devoted stewards of our planet.
Local communities often host various family events and activities to commemorate the day, but you can make an impact right at home. Planting a garden can teach kids how our food is grown while connecting them to nature. Even the littlest ones love to learn about dirt, plants, and bugs!
How to Get Kids Involved on Earth Day
With children, you’re going to want to start small so gardening doesn’t seem like a chore. Keep the size of the garden and the number of varieties you grow manageable. A plot the size of a sandbox is just right for younger kids (check out this simple cedar raised garden bed for starters!). You can have them outline the garden with rocks or stepping stones so they recognize the borders. Raised beds are a great option because they’re easy for them to reach into, but will also keep them from trampling on the plants (Read more on our blog: Raised Bed Gardening). If you’re short on space or don’t have access to a yard, container gardening might be your best choice. Don’t try to grow too much at once – start with just a few vegetables you know your kids will eat, or maybe their favorite flowers.
Put your kids in play clothes and boots, give them some sturdy kid-sized tools, and be prepared for them to get wet and dirty. Just don’t let them loose with the garden hose (that’s a mistake you don’t make twice!); a small watering can works best for small hands. Help them create plant tags, using pictures for non-readers. And don’t forget the wheelbarrow rides – keep it fun!
So, what type of vegetables or flowers are ideal for kids to plant? Small hands and short attention spans will appreciate large-seeded or fast growing plants such as: beans, corn, cucumbers, peas, morning glories, pumpkins, and sunflowers. Strawberries are easy to grow in raised beds or containers and kiddos love to pick and eat them right away. Bonus: Picky eaters will often try a new vegetable if they have grown it themselves.
Maybe your kiddos are more interested in bugs than veggies. You can support pollinators like bees and butterflies by growing native plants that will attract them to your backyard, like coneflowers, daisies, black-eyed Susan, marigold, milkweed, and lavender (find out pollinator-attracting flowers grow best in your Zone before ordering any seeds or plants). Teach kids the significant role pollinators make in growing our food and how important it is for us to protect them.
Older kids can take more ownership of the garden. Let them choose what to plant (what do they like to eat?). They might like to plant a “theme” garden, such as a pizza garden or rainbow garden. Have them read the instructions on the seed packets and figure out when, how deep, and how far apart to plant the seeds. The more you involve them, the more likely they are to stick with it. Remember: perfection is not the goal! Gardening is more of a trial and error kind of learning experience, so give them the freedom to make mistakes.
Reduce your child’s exposure to harmful chemicals by using non-toxic, earth-friendly lawn and garden products in your backyard. Pesticides that are used on lawns and gardens can leach into your soil and contaminate the groundwater, not to mention the plants that grow in the contaminated soil. You don’t need chemicals to get rid of garden pests or plant disease. Yard Guard, our eco-friendly bug killer (and natural fungicide!) spray is safe for bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects, while killing ants, fleas, ticks, and even the eggs they lay in the soil.
If you’re starting a new garden bed with your child, Nature’s Magic will help add valuable humus and powerful liquid seaweed to your soil before you plant; you can even spray it directly on plants to improve the health and quality of your vegetables and flowers.
Looking for a safe and effective fertilizer? Our Bio-Enhanced 10-8-8 is the perfect fertilizer to use up until flower blossoms appear.
All of Nature’s Lawn & Garden products are not only safe for kids and pets, they’re also good for the environment.
So gather up the family to get out and protect your little piece of earth today – you’ll also plant the seed for future naturalists!