Like myself, many parents today rely heavily on our own parents to help with childminding duties, especially after nursery and school, allowing us to complete a full days work for which we are all extremely grateful.
From my own experience, I think our parents enjoyed getting to spend this time with their grandchildren, and from the amount of us who say we got our green fingers from hanging around the ankles of a gran or grandad whilst they pottered away in their veg plot, we’ve equally gained from this time too.
It won’t surprise you when I say I was really keen to share my love of gardening with my own kids as they were growing up.
Saturdays were and mostly still are spent in the garden with the radio on listening to the footie, taking a break from gardening jobs every now and then for our own wee match before getting back to it.
Although there were gardening tasks I wanted to get on with it didn’t mean I had to ignore my kids to crack on, instead I got them involved and helping me, allowing to spend more time with them and getting the best of both worlds.
They seemed happy enough getting their hands dirty in the compost, sowing beetroot seeds and planting plugs of salad leaves, though after a few years of school it didn’t take them long to become smarter than me as they worked out the quicker these jobs were done, the quicker they would get to running rings around me at a game of football.
Selfishly, when I think back on these days they are my happiest but I know as they grow older moving into their teenage years spending an afternoon in the garden with their old man won’t be so appealing.
Keeping the love alive
I hope one day when they have a house and a family of their own that a joy of gardening and pottering away outdoors is somewhere still inside within them.
From the May 29 to June 6 is National Children’s Gardening Week. There seems to be a never-ending list of themed weeks in the gardening calendar but this is one I particularly look forward to.
Getting kids involved in their early years is key for them developing an interest in horticulture.
I’m not saying this would be a potential career – though this would be great – but just enough so they see tending their garden as a hobby, along with buying plants from local growers, and all the while ensuring our love and passion for gardening survives through the next generations.
When my kids were really young, although I wanted them near me, I can’t deny I also wasn’t really wanting them trampling through my new plantings, so one way around this was to give them their own wee garden.
At home we made a couple of raised beds out of planks of wood, high enough to be at their level, and planted up with scented plants like Lavender, mint and lettuce which are good options for kids to nibble on.
House leeks too are also great being tough and easy to grow and perfect for kids to explore through touch.
We also created a sweet-pea wigwam, leaving a gap large enough so our kids to hide inside. This can also be done with French beans.
Schools also include time for gardening
It’s not just at home, but local groups and particularly schools are making a great effort to include a spot of gardening into the school day.
I find it extremely uplifting when driving past primary schools proudly displaying their green flag award for their work focusing on the environment, part of which to achieve this has been keeping a garden, orchard or planting up a mini woodland within their own grounds.
I’m a big fan of allotment gardens, that was the way I learnt how to grow veg, but I’m full of admiration for the community of Dunkeld for their plot known as The Field. I was very lucky to visit a few years ago with the Beechgrove Garden.
There is no one person in charge, instead a list of jobs to be done is written up on a blackboard for the next person to get on with. As reward, all the produce is shared among the members with the excess being sold on a Saturday morning in the town square, helping to raise funds for the following year’s seeds, composts and other materials needed.
The best bit about this is the way that they all work together as a team, novice gardeners picking up knowledge from the experienced ones, and families getting involved too.
Most importantly, they are able to bring along their kids, to be outdoors and have fun with all the different generations.
It’s this kind of thing that makes gardening more than a hobby.