Promoting organic gardening in school is not only an excellent way of teaching kids science but also the appreciation of responsible and sustainable gardening. Children should be made to realize the harm that chemicals do to the environment as well as to human health, particularly to themselves who are still growing and developing their immune systems.
Public awareness regarding the dangers of using synthetic chemicals for fertilizers and pesticides has increased dramatically. People have become more conscious of what they eat and whether they are safe from chemical residues. Many who want to take control of the safety of their food have turned to organic home gardening. But the buck should not stop there – passing that knowledge to the younger generation is important as well.
As little kids are naturally curious about their surroundings, teaching them organic gardening becomes a fun and engaging learning process. Educators should come up with innovative and enjoyable gardening activities in order to sustain the enthusiasm of the children and to avoid making the whole organic gardening idea a boring “chore”.
Natural Methods Of Pest Control
Make kids understand that not all bugs are harmful to the plants. In fact a lot of them are classified as beneficial creatures because they help deter the harmful ones from destroying the plants. Design an activity where children are able to observe different insects in the garden and their behavior towards plants and other insects. Make them classify insects like chewers, suckers, or the good bugs that prey on the bad ones. They can also make a record of what kinds of insects are attracted to certain kinds of plants.
Another interesting organic gardening activity for children is identifying what plants are beneficial for pest control. Certain flowering plants are very inviting to bugs that would otherwise harm the food crops without their presence. An example would be sunflowers because they attract pests (that is why they are sometimes also known as “trap plants”) saving the food crops from infestation. Also, some herbs are known to drive away pests. Make the children do research or actual observation of those concepts.
To add another level of engagement with your activities on organic pest control, teach the children how use natural methods of making pest control spray using everyday kitchen supplies like onions, garlic, liquid soap and water. You can even add chili to make the mixture more potent. They can search the internet for natural concoctions that are easily made and observe which combinations work best for particular insect groups.
Organic Gardening Fertilization
Composting in one organic gardening concept that children can easily relate to. Recycling is already being taught in many schools, and reinforcing that knowledge to teach them what recyclable materials are good for composting should not be too difficult.
Shredded news papers, pencil shavings, leaves in the school yard, garden wastes, and even food preparation scraps from the canteen are very good composting materials that children can gather. Make a good composting bin that allows aeration to put all the material into. Explain to the children how nature breaks down and decomposes all this material, and how the decaying process can produce excellent soil conditioning material (compost) that is full of nutrients beneficial for the plants.
Weed Control in Organic Gardening
The simplest way of controlling garden weeds is by pulling them out, roots and all. You can use tools such as a hoe or mattock, but make sure that bigger weeds are handled by adults to prevent accidents or injuries. Small children might not be able to handle some of the more stubborn weeds.
Mulching is also one of the effective natural methods of controlling weeds. You can use sugar cane mulch, wood chips, plastic covers, large sheets of cardboard, etc. Let the children research what mulch material can kill weeds as well as improve soil condition. And then they can observe what happens to the garden patch after mulching.
What other natural methods in organic gardening can you teach your kids?
There are so many other ideas that can make children enjoy gardening. Even designing scarecrows can be made into a fun activity or even put forward as a contest. The list of activities and methods you can use to get the kids involved is endless, but it may take a bit of creativity to think of ways that are both enjoyable and educational. The bottom line is to build the knowledge in the children to allow them to understand that the natural methods used in organic gardening offer so many benefits not only to our health, but also to our environment.