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The magic of beans: The joys and benefits of gardening with children

Updated: Mar 14

There's something magical about watching a child's eyes light up as they witness the miracle of a tiny seed transforming into a thriving plant. Beyond the wonder and excitement, there are numerous benefits to growing fruit and vegetables with children.  It's not just about cultivating a green thumb; it's about nurturing a deeper connection to nature and fostering healthy eating habits from an early age. When children actively participate in growing their own food, they gain a profound understanding of where their meals come from and are more inclined to try new fruits and vegetables they've had a hand in nurturing.


So, what are the best fruits and vegetables to grow with your little ones? Opt for varieties that are easy and quick to grow. Think cherry tomatoes, strawberries, snap peas, and courgettes. These colourful and flavourful options are not only great to watch grow but also perfect for little hands to harvest and snack on straight from the garden (well, apart from the courgette!).


One simple activity to try with children is growing a bean in a kitchen roll. This hands-on experiment allows children to witness first hand the stages of plant growth, from the emergence of roots and shoots to the development of a sturdy stem and leaves. It's a great way to teach them about the magic of seeds and beans and their role in nurturing it into a plant.



A bean is in a glass jar, with kitchen roll
Growing a bean

If you want to try this you'll need a:

  • broad bean

  • glass jar

  • kitchen roll

  • water sprayer (not essential, but it's a great way to avoid children over watering!)

  • sunny windowsill


How to:

  • Scrunch up a few sheets of kitchen roll, spray with water til moist and pop the bean in.

  • Try and encourage the children to place the bean so it's sandwiched between the glass and the kitchen roll.

  • This can be a bit tricky and you can reposition it later if the children are struggling with this, or add more tissue so it can't move around as much.

  • Find a sunny windowsill or spot in your house and make sure the bean is facing the sunlight.

  • Check the paper towel and re-mist when needed. And hopefully you will see the bean growing very soon.



Top Tips:

  • Encourage children to use a water sprayer to keep the paper towel moist – this way it won’t get too drenched. Same when you plant beans and seeds into soil.

  • Plant more than one bean or seed – always good to have a backup!

  • Keep the seeds, beans and young plants inside in a sunny spot until the frosts are over and it’s warmed up outside.


Play:

Creating inviting play spaces that encourage exploration and discovery is a great way to reinforce the language and process of gardening and growing fruit and vegetables. Set up a tuff tray, or bowl with soil, seeds, off cuts of vegetables (like carrot tops, spring onions, radishes) and child-friendly gardening tools, and watch as their imaginations take root. Whether they're digging, planting, or watering, these open-ended play invitations provide endless opportunities for sensory exploration and creative expression.





The importance of growing fruit and vegetables with children goes far beyond the garden. It's about sowing the seeds of curiosity, responsibility, and healthy eating habits that will nourish them for a lifetime. So, grab your gardening gloves and let's dig in together! Why not have a go at growing a bean at home – please share you journey with us.


You can share your journey with me in Wild Things' facebook group:



Good luck, and I look forward to seeing your plants!


Stay wild,

Emma

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