Having trouble motivating your child to get going in the veg plot or looking for a simple way to introduce growing? Here’s a few ideas to start thinking about for your family gardening adventure.
Start it simple and quick and build up to more challenging and time-consuming gardening:
• For fast results plant cress in an eggcup or yoghurt pot.
• Move onto lettuce in a container on a windowsill.
• Fishing crates, ice-cream tubs, grow bags or buckets can all be used to make use of limited outside space – just remember to put holes in the bottom for drainage.
• Grow food that children can pick and eat raw such as peas, beans and carrots.
• Grow food that children like to cook, such as chipped potatoes, roasted kale (goes crispy in the oven).
• Work towards a special event such as parsnips for Christmas or pumpkins for Halloween.
STIMULATE THE SENSES
Grow some plants to explore touch, smell and sight as well as taste:
• Herbs stimulate all of the senses – lemon balm, mint, thyme and oregano.
• Sage smells great too but is also furry to the touch.
• Alliums – onion and garlic family – have attractive round flower heads.
Trying to work with oversized tools can be enough to put anyone off the plot:
• Invest in quality scaled down children’s tools, a fork, spade, trowel and they will spend longer using them in one go.
• A child size wheelbarrow will get used in a multitude of ways both for gardening and play.
• If they catch the green fingered bug brushes, grass rakes and watering cans are also available for smaller hands.
• Don’t let the weather beat you, waterproofs and wellies are gardening essentials.
OTHER LINKED ACTIVITIES
It doesn’t all have to be about planting, weeding and harvesting. Here are some other projects to create variety in your gardening activities:
• Use branches and sticks to create wigwams and other structures for climbing plants to ramble over.
• Draw or write the names of plants on stones or wood for veg bed markers.
• Get hold of a paper plant pot maker and create your own.
• Buy a small kitchen knife for your child to prep the vegetables they have grown.
• Create compost from the waste and dig in the compost to understand the circular nature of gardening.
• Kids love to make beer traps and sprinkle coffee grounds to control the slugs.
• Craft activities such as lavender bags, flower pressings, corn dollies make rainy day use of your garden produce.
• Hang your herbs up to dry – try a blindfold smell recognition game.
• Light a fire and roast some courgettes, sweetcorn and peppers.
It’s not all about summer, here’s some ideas to get going on right now:
• Sowing Indoors on a windowsill or a greenhouse – for fast results – winter lettuce varieties, oriental salad leaves, rocket, chard or spinach, radish, cress, endive – more slowly over winter (ready for March, April and May) – kale, spring cabbage, broad beans, peas, Florence bulb fennel, spring onions. These can be sown late into September.
• Sowing Outdoors – onions, garlic, winter turnip. Always check the varieties to make they are hardy for the winter and can be sown in late summer.
Collective words by: Dan Haylock, Jo Finn & Sally Gostick