“All the world’s problems can be solved in a garden” (Permaculturist Geoff Lawton)
Many years ago people grew plants for sustainability, which is also true to some families today. We are all aware that we should be eating more fruit and vegetables to maintain a healthy body, what better way is there to encourage children to eat more fruit and vegetables than to grow them in the garden?
The Den has been developing an area for growing vegetables. Knowing how to successfully grow and harvest crops is a great skill to develop. Gardening allows direct contact with nature and the environment, which is a key factor within our ethos at Free Rangers. Gardening gives an opportunity for being outside, exploring and experimenting and involves physical exercise. It can also have a positive impact upon emotional development by encouraging children to care for living things and to help them to relax and unwind within a sensory space.
A few weeks ago, back in April, we began talking about what we would like to grow in our garden. Many children were discussing types of plants that they were growing at home or were planning to grow which is great to hear, we also looked at some books and seed packets for ideas and inspiration. We ended up planting tomato, basil, sunflower, radish, beetroot and marigold seeds. We explored the soil and talked about the texture, look and purpose of it. We also talked about the other needs of plants – warmth from the sun, protection from pests and water.
As time has progressed small groups have been checking on our seedlings regularly to observe their growth and maintain them, mostly by watering them. We have managed to keep just one sunflower alive (we planted 6!), 7 tomato plants, marigolds, basil, lots of radishes and a few beetroots. We also have some strawberry plants that we planted last year and we have recently planted some runner beans in our hanging baskets and some onions.
Each time that we do jobs in our gardening area we are greeted by different insects (so far none that wish to eat our plants!) which attract lots of interest from our children. So, we now have some pictures on the fence to help us to identify them.
There is a book in the Den with photographs of the children doing jobs in the garden which you are welcome to look at when you call in to the Den. You can see our small growing area at the edge of the paddock by looking over the fence at the bottom of our garden.