I love to garden and have been puttering as an amateur gardener for years. I’ve learned a lot but continue to research and experiment and learn more every year. Over the years my love of gardening has sparked an interest in my children and as they have asked questions and wanted to help we’ve discovered some wonderful learning that we’ve enjoyed together as a family. This is the kind of homeschooling I love most – natural curiosity leading to practical knowledge and great memory-making. Even if you are limited on space or live in an apartment you can garden in containers so there’s no reason why you can’t join in the fun. Whether you grow flowers or fruits and veggies, here are some of the things your family can learn about by gardening together.
Learn from gardening:
1. Where Food Comes From
In today’s largely urban society there is often a disconnect for many children about where food actually comes from! Many children have never thought any further than the grocery store for the source of food. If they have never been taught otherwise, many don’t realize what is involved in growing fruits and vegetables or raising animals for meat and dairy. Even growing a few vegetables brings that awareness and starts those conversations with your children.
2. Research and Planning
A little research and planning is needed to garden successfully. You need to know key information such as how much light and what kind of light you have where you plan to garden, what kind of soil you have and what growing zone you live in before making decisions about what you want to grow and where you’re going to plant it.
3. Basic Botany
Gardening is an easy way to teach the parts of a plant (roots, stem, flower, fruit, etc.) as well as how plants are fertilized and pollinated. It’s a natural extension to talk about the different ways that seeds are spread as well.
4. Weather Patterns for your Area
What growing zone do you live in? What kind of plants will thrive there? Are there any plants that won’t do well? When can you plant in your area without fear of frost? (We live in Saskatchewan, Canada and generally speaking we need to wait until late May before we are confident we are past the danger of frost unless you take measures to protect your plants with a cold frame or greenhouse of some kind.) Are there any other weather concerns for your area? If you’re growing indoors what like sources do you have available and how will that affect what you can grow?
One great way to reduce the amount of garbage that ends up in the landfill is to compost your organic waste. It’s not complicated to do and doesn’t even take up much space. I made a simple DIY compost bin last spring out of a large black garbage can. The trick is to get one that locks well to keep out any local critters, then drill holes all over it for air circulation and you’re ready to go!
This is composting using worms to eat through your organic waste. The castings (worm poop) they produce are wonderful for your garden. You don’t need much space or expense (a Rubbermaid tub will work just fine) and you can do this kind of composting year round no matter where you live as you can keep your worms in the house either all year around or only over the winter. It’s another great learning extension to gardening.
7. Companion planting
Some plants work really well together in your garden. When paired properly they can provide certain nutrients to one another, support, attract desirable insects or repel unwanted ones.
8. Harvesting and Preserving Food
There is nothing more satisfying that harvesting your own produce and enjoying the fruits of your labours. And if your harvest is bountiful you can look at ways to preserve your harvest for future use by freezing, canning, and pickling.
9. Patience and Perseverance
A successful garden does require some consistent attention and will take several months before you see the fruits of your labour. This is a great hands-on lesson for kids in patience and perseverance.
If you’ve never tried your hand at gardening I encourage you to give it a go – you may find that you have a wonderful green thumb! If you are a seasoned gardener tell us what other things you’ve learned along the way.