This month is all about enticing little green thumbs to get their nature on by integrating familiar gaming concepts into the world of gardening, and in celebration of Youth Day on 16 June, Life is a Garden is on a mission to get kids dabbing for dirt!
We’re talking all about inspiring kids to see gardening as a real-life gaming opportunity, where they select the players, choose their weapons, and use that thirst for adventure to their advantage by creating themed worlds.
Selecting possible players
By this, we mean choosing the best-suited crop for your kid. A visit to your local GCA Garden Centre easily becomes an exciting morning outing when the kids get to select the players for their gardening game-play.
Here’s a list of a few worthy contenders, which are relatively easy to grow and fun to harvest:
- Namaqualand daisies (Dimorphotheca sinuata): Colourful and quirky sun lover, attracts butterflies and bees, flowers during autumn, winter, and early spring.
- Iceland poppies (Papaver naudicaule): A wow factor flora available in many shades and bicoloured varieties, easy to grow in full sun, flowers in winter and spring, makes for a great cutflower.
- Wild mint (Mentha longifolia): Smells amazing and has many uses, a fast grower in semi-shade or full sun, the more you harvest, the more they grow!
- Sugar snap peas (Pisum sativum var. macrocarpon): Easy, great tasting veggie for winter growing in full sun, frost hardy, likes to climb and loves to be picked.
Choosing your weapon, wisely:
Plastic spades and buckets are great for the beach, but gardening is a “big kid” job, which requires suitable weaponry to tackle the tenacious nature with! Let your children know that what they are doing is important by allowing them to use real, grown-up gardening tools. Get physical, strengthen muscles, improve coordination, and show kids what these tools can do.
Tip: Saw the handles of wooden tools shorter and look out for smaller versions of spades, rakes, and forks, commonly found at garden centres.
Creating a world of wonder
Now that we’ve got the players and weapons sorted, it’s time to create the world! Make the most of your child’s gaming experience and encourage them to think about a theme for their little gardening adventure. Give them a large pot or a designated area in the garden. Invite their imaginations to run wonderfully rampageous at the possibility of a zombie, troll, mermaid, or fairy garden! Here’s how:
- Transform that old plastic shell tub into a mermaid flower bed by drilling holes underneath for drainage, decorate with seashells.
- Plant ferns and succulents as hair inside gnome shaped pots, complete the look with some pebbles, moss, and a few troll figurines.
- Use bricks to build a garden bed in the shape of Micky Mouse or a butterfly
- Add theme-appropriate ornaments and toys to the garden, such as army dudes, fairy statues, painted mushrooms, treasure chests, racing cars, and whatever else goes!
Reaching the first checkpoint
The kids have made it to their first milestone – actually getting their greens in the ground! And now, it’s all about patience, young grasshoppers. While you wait, start a growing chart with your child to document the growth of their game players.
Kids will also enjoy decorating the project according to their garden theme. The growing chart encourages responsibility, dedication, and attention to detail.
Tip: Reward good gardening efforts by adding an extra column to your growth chart for stickers or points.
Defeating the boss
Well done, garden gamers! The wicked, winter boss has been conquered! Seeing their plants surface inspires a sense of accomplishment in your child. Similarly, if nothing has come up, an equally important lesson of perseverance and commitment can be taught here. Why not start sharing those gardening family secrets and handy hacks with your kids to ensure the love for gardening is passed on to the next generation.
Whether they are into fantasy or fighting, racing or resurrection, bringing the virtual world of gaming into real-life gardening can be an exciting and engaging project for every child. Not only will it get them outdoors and promote a healthy lifestyle, but it also offers opportunities for quality time, sharing of knowledge, and a whole new appreciation for the many wonders of Mother Nature!
Life is a Garden is the marketing division of The South African Nursery Association (SANA). SANA is a member-driven, non-profit organisation, which strives to promote gardening as a hobby in South Africa for ALL South Africans. To ensure the highest standards, SANA’s garden centre members form part of the Garden Centre Association which strives to continuously improve the quality of products, knowledge and customer service within garden centres. These GCA Garden Centres can be identified by yellow and green GCA flags, present at garden centres and home stores, nationwide.