Fun in the Garden at Every Age
Gardening is an excellent pastime for people of any age. It brings color and life to yards, delivers wholesome nutrition to dinner plates, and even improves wellbeing. But many people are intimidated by gardening. Perhaps they believe they don’t have a green thumb, or a dead houseplant has discouraged their horticultural dreams. But gardening is a hobby that’s accessible to anyone, no matter your experience or age. Here’s how kids, adults, and seniors can help in the garden and reap the many benefits it offers.
Kids in the Garden
Getting kids involved in the garden can require a little creativity. Kids may view gardening as just another chore, or an unwelcome distraction from video games and time with friends. But parents who don’t invite their children into the vegetable patch are doing them a disservice, because gardening brings big benefits to kids’ health.
While tasks must be tailored to skill level, kids of any age can lend a hand in the garden.
- Toddlers and preschoolers can help parents dig holes for seeds and seedlings, water plants, and harvest hardy plants like carrots and radishes. Plucking and tasting veggies fresh out of the garden instills an early love of healthy foods, while handling small plants and seeds hones fine motor skills.
- Elementary schoolers are ready to start learning about the science behind making plants grow. Get them involved in starting seeds, transplanting seedlings, and watering on a regular schedule. Turn it into a science project by measuring rainfall and plant growth, identifying weeds and pests, and introducing beneficial insects to feast on nuisance bugs.
- Middle schoolers can take on a garden project of their own. Being in charge of plants all season long is a valuable lesson in responsibility, even if little survives. At this age, kids become more self-directed as they start gravitating toward the aspects of gardening that interest them most.
- High school students can be challenging to engage, but interested teens can accomplish a lot in the garden. Encourage high schoolers to spearhead a big garden project based on their interests. That may be constructing raised beds, experimenting with plant breeding, or raising a flock of chickens for eggs or meat.
Adults in the Garden
It can be difficult to maintain a hobby into adulthood. As responsibilities pile on, free time decreases and favorite activities get pushed aside. But gardening and its meditative nature offer an important counterbalance to everyday life. Here’s how adults of all ages can get busy in the garden:
- Young adults can make the most of gardening’s popularity, and coax friends into the garden. Time spent weeding can be exchanged for shared wine and vibrant veggies, combining socialization and gardening for a big mental health benefit. During the time when people are at the most risk for developing unhealthy habits such as addiction or other destructive behaviors, gardening can offer a positive focus.
- Middle-aged adults are some of the most enthusiastic gardeners. As they become homeowners, adults in this age group can truly start investing in their garden. This can mean adding irrigation, permanent structures like raised beds and gazebos, and perennial plants and trees. Only a few hours on weekends and evenings are necessary to create a gorgeous garden and enjoy its stress-busting health perks.
- Seniors may derive the greatest gardening benefits of any age group. Gardening helps seniors strengthen balance and functional mobility, which lets them live an independent lifestyle for longer. Gardening is easily adapted to the needs of seniors. Seniors who use a wheelchair or have other mobility challenges can use accessible raised beds, while others can work in short bursts and use gardening chairs and knee pads to maximize comfort. As they get older, perennial plants let seniors enjoy seasonal bounties without the work of planting an annual vegetable garden.
Gardening is a hobby that transcends age. From toddlers tasting garden-fresh produce for the first time to elderly adults calming their minds with time in the garden, everyone can find a reason to dig in outdoors.
Author: Maria Cannon
Image via Pixabay