“For the love of dirt”
“For the love of dirt” – Hannah Thwaites
“There is a magnetism between kids and dirt – it looks like chocolate, tastes like freedom, just add water and it’s an artist’s medium! Instead of fighting it, get smart:
– Create ‘gardening clothes’ – choose hard-wearing, non-white(!) outfits that they like to wear and you won’t stress about.
– Consider a ‘gardening apron’ for baking mud-pies (note: wiping hands on thighs seems to be an innate practice that not all apron designs protect from, choose wisely!).
– Make shoes an optional choice. If there’s no reason to wear them, don’t insist. Who really wants to be scraping clods out of treads or doing a stained sock test with the leading brand of washing powder? Not me!
– Include the broom in their set of gardening tools. Kids form habits just as much as adults. A final sweep up afterwards isn’t as far-fetched as it may first seem.
You can also rest easy in the knowledge that playing in dirt with all of its wonderful bugs and bacteria builds your kids’ strong immune system. Exercising their immune system in this way allows it to grow and fully develop to be able to fight off illness and disease. Kids love dirt because their natural instinct tells them that it is beneficial for them, and helps them grow up healthier. Finally, let the kids remind you how much fun getting dirty really is. Get in there and get reacquainted with just how delicious mud pies can be!
Label with care
Now that the dirty work is done, the kids’ handiwork could benefit from some labelling so they know what’s planted where (and importantly, whose is whose!). Kids will love the creativity involved with sign-writing: they may choose to colour-code the different types of plants or to draw what they’ve planted (especially great for those still learning how to write). It’s often helpful to put the date of planting on the labels to help them learn to appreciate the long-term benefits of growing your own (versus the instant gratification of buying food from a shop).
Don’t feel as though labels need to be store-bought. If you have older kids with whittling skills any small branch can be transformed into a plant marker by carefully shaving off a flat section to write upon. An even easier option is to use paddle pop sticks. Surprisingly, pencil tends to last longer than permanent texta as the natural carbon in the lead doesn’t wear off as much in rain and sunlight. Best of all, these plant labels can be reused over and over by giving them a quick rub down with sand paper to remove the writing.
Hannah Thwaites is Owner of The Productive Garden Co., an Adelaide-based business specialising in the design and installation of edible gardens and all about “Growing gardens you can eat!” For more information feel free to have a look at their website (www.productivegardenco.com.au) or email through your queries ([email protected]).”