gardening with kids

GARDENING WITH KIDS

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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.

GARDENING PROGRESSION

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.

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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.

TOOLED UP

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.

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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.

WINTER CROPS

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

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