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LET’S TALK GARDENING – Did You Turn Your Kids “Green” This Past Year?

By Doug Hensel
Doug's Blog

THE POWER OF PLANTS

It just warms my heart and soul when I talk to so many customers who have used landscaping and gardening and learning the value of houseplants as a family activity for the first time. This family trend is truly a “silver lining” to this pandemic year that we have all had to bear. And, I lost count as to how many young parents came into the garden center with their kids in order to shop for plants. Whether they were shopping for houseplants, or vegetables, or perennials, or flowering annuals—it doesn’t matter. The kids were being exposed to the “green world” and maybe for the first time.

With fall approaching, this time of year is a wonderful time to take advantage of the cooler days and do some educational exploring through the gardens with the kids. We need to keep them exposed and involved. Being around plants, growing plants, trimming plants, making fresh cut flowers from the blooming perennials, planting bulbs, etc., and even just looking at flowers and plants has been proven by study after study to improve our mood and our health. Families are choosing to spend time and money growing their own food, enhancing their landscape, and buying houseplants. We need to keep this ball rolling forward. We need to focus attention on our kids to get them involved with plants. Personally, my grandson, who is four, will show me his two tomato plants that he planted and he will pick off the ripe tomatoes and eat them and share them with me. I love this little guy and how he likes plants already at such an early age. And, I have had a couple of opportunities to play in this “green world” with a few of his friends. I can only hope that I am making a lasting impact.

Another learning aspect when it comes to plants is that we all experience plants dying. For a child, this could be devastating and sad. But, we need to use this as a learning tool. Try to figure out what may have caused the death of the plant—could it be water-related or insect-related?  As a parent, we want to encourage trying again. Don’t let this failure control what you do next. As all gardeners know, we have plants that are evergreen, deciduous, perennial, and annual. We can teach this to our kids. Annuals will naturally die with a cold frost later this fall, perennials will die back, deciduous shrubs and trees will drop their leaves. In my estimation, what a great teaching tool this could be for kids to learn.

Gardening and kids have a lot in common. The most conspicuous similarities are that both like to pluck flowers, pick fruits and berries, find insects, and get wet and dirty. Playing outside in the dirt puts a smile on any kids’ face. It’s a natural match. We, as parents, adults, and teachers can help nurture young peoples’ interest in horticulture by inviting them to help weed, water, plant, garden, and just learn about plants.

Every generation needs to learn how to take care of and save nature.

Earlier I mentioned the fall season.  FALL IS FOR PLANTING. Fall is a great season to be involved with plants. Fall opens another vegetable-growing season with cool-season vegetables such as beets, carrots, lettuce, cabbage, spinach, and more. My advice: keeps those trowels active. Have the kids help with planning and planting the new vegetable garden. Later in the fall, teach the kids the value of sharing their bounty with others such as sharing their vegetables with classmates, neighbors, and food banks.

Now that school is back in session, for many kids, this is a first step to getting back to “normal” living. Being with friends and socializing is so important. Just maybe, some of the talks can be about their experiences with plants, growing vegetables, and taking care of the houseplant that is in the bedroom. I can only hope that the “green world” popularity is trending upward with many young folks and it becomes a part of the new “normal”.

PLANT A LITTLE HAPPINESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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