How Plants Can Bring Us Closer to Nature and Teach Us Useful Life Skills

How Plants Can Bring Us Closer to Nature and Teach Us Useful Life Skills

Imagine trying to teach a child about the laws of nature and how the ecosystem is one big cycle of giving, and then you’re suddenly inspired to grow some plants that attract insects. This would be great! These insects will help pollinate plants, and the child can actually see the entire process happening in many ways, bringing them closer to nature and how it works – all right in front of their eyes.

Teach them to enjoy gardening

When you plan and tend to your garden with your children, they will grow to understand that they exist as one with every living, breathing species they interact with, and plants are a big part of the process. For this we should be thankful for plants. This is a much better and more affordable way of educating our children than trying to educate them with toys.

Gardening from a young age teaches our children a sense of responsibility, caring for their first plant and tending to its needs. They will love the feeling of accomplishment when their plants start flowering, and they can show it off to their friends.

Let’s teach our children to garden, to grow their own food and to appreciate everything plants do for us and help them by bringing them closer to nature!

Urban structures turn green

Many of us live in urban areas with tall cement buildings, and we constantly find ourselves seeking out a little nature to surround and comfort us. Imagine the benefits if we all planted a tree or filled our homes and balconies with at least two plants – how much more hospitable we would find our concrete jungle as the plants softened our hard buildings and purified the air we breathe. Our productivity would increase as plants helped us to relax, making it easier to enjoy the space we live in.

It has also been said that patients in hospitals that integrate plants as part of their furnishing recover quicker. Yay for plants!

Enjoy being closer to nature

Just think of how relaxed you feel when you’re out with friends in nature, camping or taking a walk in a nature reserve. Or when you fill your home with indoor plants, or while you are outside gardening – you naturally feel at one with yourself! You interact with nature, which is alive and healthy, your spirit gets recharged because humans are nature themselves.   

Once we have a mutual respect for plants, we will understand that they are here to assist us. We will go out into the wild to be surrounded by tall trees, we will listen to the gentle waves of the ocean, we will admire the sun shimmering on us, we will hike and camp more often. Our plates will be filled with more vegetables, and we will even create mini natural spaces in our offices. We will start noticing that the places we visit, such as restaurants, are bringing in more natural greenery for our goodness.  We will keep our plants alive for sure!

We all need to get closer to nature

‘Eco-therapy’ is a great word to describe the effects of nature on our mental state, because we definitely experience a feeling of higher life satisfaction when surrounded by nature. We need to realise that we shouldn’t take nature for granted just because we experience it for free when we step outside every day. We all need to learn to love and respect nature, and to impart this love and respect to our children too.

Visit Plantland for more information, tips and ideas.

closer to nature
Making Terrariums With Your Kids – It’s Fun!

Making Terrariums With Your Kids – It’s Fun!

Inspired by the terrarium trend and museum dioramas, there’s great fun to be had in planting up clear containers with succulents, moss and plastic wildlife to create beautiful terrariums.

For Your Terrariums You Will Need:

terrariums
  • An assortment of glass or clear plastic/ acrylic containers: terrariums, vases, medium to large mason jars as well as small fish bowls or tanks
  • Child-friendly, spike-free succulents
  • Spray-bottle filled with water
  • Small pebbles as well as decorative stones
  • Potting soil
  • Moss (available from nurseries)
  • Plastic animal toys

Instructions:

1. Place a generous layer of small stones or pebbles in the bottom of the container.

2. Top with soil, leaving a few inches of space at the top for plants (depending on their size) and small plastic toys.

3. Plant the succulents and create scenes using the toys and moss.

4. Spray your terrariums with a fine mist of water as needed.

terrariums

Tips

  • Terrariums make a great DIY gift for little friends: pop a suitable container, several small succulents and a mini spray-bottle into a gift box along with soil, pebbles and plastic toys sorted into separate Ziploc bags. Don’t forget hand-written instructions.
  • There’s no limit to how creative you can get: think colourful gravel, fairies, toadstools and dinosaurs.
  • Before assembling your terrariums, mark the inside of the jar with dots of glow-in-the-dark paint to up the cool factor.

TEXT Mandy Allen/Bureaux PRODUCTION Jeanne Botes PHOTOGRAPHS Warren Heath/Bureaux. www.bureaux.co.za

The Tale of the Veggie Garden and the Cadbury Dairy Milk Egg – A story by Tanya Visser

The Tale of the Veggie Garden and the Cadbury Dairy Milk Egg – A story by Tanya Visser

The other day I was watching the trailer of the new Peter Rabbit™ movie and it brought back memories of my own childhood, when we used to sneak into my dad’s veggie garden and liberate his monkey nuts. Just like Peter Rabbit snuck into Mr McGregor’s garden to steal veggies, it was impossible for us to resist the temptation of the tasty morsels in my dad’s veggie garden.

Sometimes my best friend Angus and I would camp out under the stars in the garden, and one of our favourite meals was a bowl of boiled monkey nuts. Instead of roasting them like most people do, our family has always enjoyed the boiled version. To this day we still serve big bowls filled to the brim as a snack at Christmas time.

On our campouts Angus and I would make a fire in an old coffee can, find a piece of grid and a pot to cook our nuts, and then sneak into the veggie garden to dig up plants to gather the nuts. We thought we were very clever, as we would pick odd plants in the rows, take the harvest from the roots and then carefully put the plants back, all to hide the evidence. But just like Mr McGregor did, my dad would get mad when he found these dying plants and scream to my mother, “Jennifer, look what your children have done!” Then we would be disowned for a few days.

We lived in a pretty remote area so there were no friends to go and play with in the afternoons. Instead we as kids were always playing in the garden, and in the evenings there were chores to be done out in the veggie garden. This part of the garden was my dad’s domain and the only area that was fenced off from the chickens and bantams we had running around.

One of our chores was to clean out the chicken litter from the asbestos runs (yes, asbestos in those days) to fertilise the veggie garden. Some of this was used as a mulch around the veggies, and some was soaked in huge drums with other ingredients to make liquid fertiliser we used to gather in watering cans.

Dad grew the most amazing tomatoes, which was his prime crop. Two plants were planted in a big fertiliser bag filled with his ‘mixture’, and each bag was placed on a structure of cement blocks onto which long poles were placed so that the bags sat across the poles, off the ground, and we would poke holes in the bottom of the bags for drainage. The plants were nurtured with watering cans of goodness-filled water, one full five-litre can for each plant every day, because tomatoes are thirsty plants. We weren’t allowed to skimp on this job or turn to the hosepipe.

Once they grew up a bit, they needed to be staked, and we couldn’t pop over to the hardware store and grab some bamboo droppers, so as a family we went out on a weekend and cut bamboo for the tomatoes (and some for my fishing rods!) A long, intricate trellis system was constructed around the tomatoes, and as they got bigger we would tie them to the trellis with my mother’s old stockings. In those days she worked in the bank and had to wear stockings and high-heel pumps to work, so there was always a supply of worn-out stockings. Nowadays we buy ties.

As the tomatoes started flowering Dad would pinch out the early flowers so that the plants grew bushy. Once the crop started, we picked kilograms of beautiful tomatoes that he would take to work and sell. His favourite tomato was the ‘Moneymaker’, which is one of the oldest varieties and is still available today. Gosh, if we picked a big one it would have pride of place on the dining room table, and my dad would tell my mother on countless occasions how amazing that tomato was.

My dad was one of the first people in our area to grow the William’s banana, which he got from a commercial grower on the South Coast. These trees were like giants in the garden (although I was quite short then). When the flowers at the bottom of the banana bunches started falling off, the still-green bananas would be cut off with a hacksaw blade and taken back to the veranda where a table was set up with layers of newspaper. We would cut off the hands and lay them down, covering them with another layer of newspaper to trap ethylene to ripen them. The whole process was controlled so that the bananas would ripen in succession.

In those days family and friends often used to visit us, and we them on the weekends. Whenever somebody visited they always left with something, be it a bag of the latest crop or some seedlings we dug up and wrapped in newspaper with a little water added. No one ever left without something from the veggie garden. Today I still garden in the same manner, and everyone always leaves with something from the garden.

The only difference is that we sow seed in trays to keep a more controlled environment, and I use the hardware store a lot more. I have the same ritual that my dad had: every day when I come home from work I go into the garden to see what needs to be done. I pick ingredients to cook with, and just spend time enjoying the garden. And as Peter Rabbit hides in the potting shed in the story, so I like to hide in my potting shed. I think I love my potting shed more than my house! It’s filled with family memories, like the concrete pots dad made for mom’s orchids, still looking strong after all this time, and quirky things I have kept from our old garden to use in my new garden today.

One of my fondest memories is the annual Easter egg hunt in the garden. Being very competitive, I had to find the most Cadbury Dairy Milk eggs. We would then torment aunty Yvonne by pushing as many eggs as we could into the exhaust pipe of her old VW Beetle, and watch as she tried to start the car, which would splutter like crazy until the eggs shot out of the exhaust. I have to say that chocolate and growing veggies is in my blood, and without them life just wouldn’t be the same!

Look out for the Cadbury Dairy Milk special limited-edition Peter Rabbit™ Milk Chocolate Egg with delicious Astros inside. #UnwrapTheJoy