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Gardening and children - are todays parents afraid of nature?

Discussion in 'General Gardening Discussion' started by Black Dog, Jun 9, 2021 at 2:33 PM.

  1. Black Dog

    Black Dog Gardener of useful things

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    Moin everyone,

    After overhearing the neighbors with their grandchildren the other day I was quite shocked.T The(one-sided) discussion between the 60yo grandma and her 2yo grandson went something like this:

    "Yes Thilo, that is a worm. No Thilo, don't touch that worm - it's icky. I told you not to touch that worm, now we have to wash your hands. Noooo, no touching the worm everything in the garden is ewww. Let's go inside and get you cleaned up."

    After hearing that I really wondered if some people have lost their touch with nature.
    I remember back in the old days (so basically in the 90s) I had to find out myself that neither worms nor slugs or centipedes make good food. My mother let me play between straw- and blackberries and we ran though grassy patches trying to catch grasshoppers and spider to show our parents.

    But I vowed that my children will learn where vegetables come from. They will learn to pick fruit and to not be afraid because a spider wandered into the house. At least I hope so....

    So what did you do to encourage your (grand-)children to learn about nature and gardening? Do you have examples on how (not) to do it? Ideas for baby's first cucumber patch?
     
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    • shiney

      shiney President, Grumpy Old Men's Club Staff Member

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      :hate-shocked: The old days, as far as I'm concerned was the 40's :old: :roflol:. The 90's was the retiring decade :)

      Visiting children are shown the different type of plants, those that look nice, those that smell nice, those that are edible and those that can be harmful if eaten or touched.

      Then we explain why we have plants that are harmful and why, in the correct circumstances, they are good. Some that are good because they attract pollinating insects, others provide food for the birds and some, such as stinging nettles are good food for the caterpillars of butterflies such as the Red Admiral, Peacock, Comma and tortoiseshell (if there are no caterpillars on them in July then cut them back for new growth to appear for them later on). Nettles also make a good soup :blue thumb:

      Mullein (the wild Verbascum that grows tall with yellow flowers) is the feeding ground of the attractive Mullein caterpillar that turns into the Mullein moth. :thumbsup:
       
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      • pete

        pete Growing a bit of this and a bit of that....

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        My personal thoughts are people have not just lost touch with nature but lost touch with living a normal carefree life.
        If something is not problematical they have to make it so that it is.

        The covid thing has not helped the situation, all this hand sanatisation that is going on, this kind of thing sticks, and I think it will continue long after covid has been put to bed.

        Regarding the garden, yes, hand wash for kids is essential but only after doing certain things and before doing others.
        We have a couple of generations of people who appear to be allergic to loads of things, I wonder if those same people had been allowed to get dirty from an early age, instead of being sanitised four or five times a day, they would have still grown up like that.

        Too many antibacterial sprays and cleaners that kill all bacteria, even the good ones, the ones that give us resistance to certain things.

        I'm not a scientist, but soap and water is enough for me in most situations.
         
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        • Nikolaos

          Nikolaos Super Gardener

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          Interesting thread you started, @Black Dog! Your childhood sounds like mine, I was never kept away from Nature in any way. My parents weren't particularly knowledgeable about it, but they certainly weren't phobic like most people seem to be these days. I was always encouraged to learn more about animals I expressed an interest in, like reptiles and insects and growing up in Cyprus there were plenty of them about! :yikes::heehee: So less a case of learning from them, more one of learning with them, which is probably more enjoyable in the sense of being less didactic.

          I fully endorse our friend @shiney's method of teaching children about Nature, they seem to learn a lot more and learn it faster if you teach them about the interrelatedness of Mother Nature. One develops a sort of 'web' of knowledge then, rather than just learning about one thing and then another in isolation. A big part of it is showing them that it's fun to simply relax, sit and observe everything outdoors, and that if you pay attention you will possibly spot a new species everyday this time of year. Just this morning I saw a red moth with black markings and a red damselfly that I've never seen before in my garden and that was while I was busy planting, not chilling out and paying full attention! :) And yes, sensory stuff works well with kids too, like plants with lovely fragrance/leaf scent and tactility, like phlomis and stachys.

          Nick
           
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          • Nikolaos

            Nikolaos Super Gardener

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            So is buddleia mate, photo taken in my back garden about 10 minutes ago. :biggrin::blue thumb:

            Nick

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            • shiney

              shiney President, Grumpy Old Men's Club Staff Member

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              I've found that if we let a few very large wild mullein remain in the garden the moths lay their eggs on those and leave the other plants alone - even other Verbascum :dbgrtmb:
               
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              • Stuart Fawcett

                Stuart Fawcett Gardener

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                LOL reminds me of when friends and their kids came round a few years ago. Me off with the Kids, worms, woodlice and finally a small frog they loved it. The Kids had never seen nature before, so i suggested they take the frog and go show their 30 something parents. Oops the screams from the parents "urgh Worm frogs " left the kids very confused about whether these little critters were good or scary things. A strong reminder that Kids grow their fears from their parents.
                 
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                • The Buddleja Garden

                  The Buddleja Garden Gardener

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                  Verbascum is the closest relative of Buddleja native to Europe, so it's no surprise the mullein moth caterpillars will chomp them.
                   
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                  • Black Dog

                    Black Dog Gardener of useful things

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                    I think a lot of the peoples lack of knowledge comes from being overly tidy when it comes to gardening.

                    If the perfect garden one can imagine consists solely of gravel in front of the house and a 2cm buzzcut lawn behind, there isn't much room for nature. Sure, you can plant a few boxwoods, prairie grass and hydrangea, but those are pretty much useless to animals.

                    And without animals or the chance to actually DO something in the garden besides sitting on the (perfectly cut) lawn, it won't spark the interest of children. Or at least that's my theory. How can a child learn about flowers, seeds and the role of bees in the whole thing if everything that's not lawn gets sprayed with weedkiller as soon as it emerges?
                     
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                    • Alisa

                      Alisa Gardener

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                      It's not only about today's parents. I walked with my colleague, I ate all the blackberries and cherries I could pinch from the branches along the road. She was shocked :). She was taught not to do this, as berries can be poisonous. Plus I was surprised to see apple trees and pear trees full of fruits in school gardens. We used to eat them green in the childhood.
                      I can understand it - generations grow in "concrete jungle". Food is what cab be found packed in the shop. Not to go far, my son doesn't like fruit and veg :( He's hooked on maccies and kfc.
                      Occasionally I get him in the garden to test knowledge of plants I grow.
                       
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                      • Kevin Cowans

                        Kevin Cowans Gardener

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                        Hello all

                        I hope you are well.

                        Childhoods are, unfortunately, not what they used to be and it is a real shame.

                        When I was 6 or 7 years old, in the early 70s', I had an area in the back garden where I would dig a large hole and I remember that I got to about shoulder depth, for a 7 year old, that is deep.

                        I think I may of been trying to escape :)

                        I feel so sorry for the children of today, they are missing out on so much joy.

                        Kevin
                         
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                        • CanadianLori

                          CanadianLori Total Gardener

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                          @Kevin Cowans "shoulder depth" would be a very deep hole- particularly for you as I suspect you were also tall when you were young!

                          I take neighbourhood kids into my back yard and let them taste whatever is edible. We try different mint leaves and chives and on and on. Or crush a basil leaf and smell it. I tell them that no, not everything is safe to eat but smelling them is a way of "tasting" them without ingesting anything. And that there are lots of plants that are edible even though they are growing outside of a farmer's field.

                          I used to sneak sour grapes from a property about a mile from where I lived. Get a nasty case of the runs. And then do the very same thing the next day! :doh: And I'd eat crabapples. Even tried various nuts but they weren't very nice raw :rolleyespink:
                           
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                          • pete

                            pete Growing a bit of this and a bit of that....

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                            I tend to think you are right about tidyness , my neighbour throws everything away, and then is always asking me for bits and pieces.
                            The garden is becoming a room of the house, they will be vacuuming the lawn next.
                            I use weedkiller, but I don't anialate every weed by any means.
                             
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                            • Black Dog

                              Black Dog Gardener of useful things

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                              Don't laugh it off so easily. Those system are already available. My neighbors have a drone that keeps the lawn spotless by mowing it at least an hour per day. To be fair it is a really nice, really expensive and completely silent system. You can't hear if you don't focus and if you don't stand right at the fence.

                              And those gravel-gardens which are mostly located in front of the house have to be vacuumed every other year in order to remove plant matter that falls into the cracks. Otherwise it will accumulate and build up to a nice layer of soil for weeds to grow in.
                               
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                              • shiney

                                shiney President, Grumpy Old Men's Club Staff Member

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                                Do you mean neat and tidy like some of my garden? :whistle: :heehee:

                                Kids love this area of it :blue thumb:
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                                Anacamptis pyramidalis (Pyramidal Orchid) is just starting to flower. They're supposed to like chalky/sandy soil but mine is clay.
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                                They're about 3 or 4 weeks ahead of the Bee orchids (taken a year or two ago) and these can't flower if there are chemicals used in the garden.
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                                The whole area is crowded with bees, butterflies and insects depending on time of year. Kids love it and are very careful where they tread. :thumbsup:
                                 
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