Home gardens are a natural for connecting children with nature. Here are some suggestions from program manager Linda Davis of the Hamilton Children’s Garden at the San Diego Botanic Garden on how to give your growing grounds kid appeal:
• Pick plants that are magnets for butterflies. Grow both nectar and host plants, so children can see the butterfly life cycle, including egg, caterpillar and chrysalis. Butterflies enjoy plants with flat flowers the most. To lure monarch caterpillars, be sure to include milkweed; for gulf fritillaries, passion vine.
• Tend “nibbles,” easy-to-grow edible snacks to enjoy on a garden walk. Some kid favorites are sweet cherry tomatoes and strawberries. For even more fun, help them grow radishes and carrots from seed.
• Free seeds from their pods to help kids appreciate the botanical circle of life. Some seedpods, like those for oriental poppies, are bursting with thousands of minute seeds. Inside milkweed pods are seeds with “wings” that carry them into the air, while pea pods hold delicious “edible” seeds.
• Create a pint-sized worm bin. Experiment with red wrigglers housed in a plastic tub filled with shredded paper. Kids can help feed the worms fruit and vegetable scraps and harvest their castings for the garden.