Gardening with kids
Gardening can be such a wonderful way for your children to experience the satisfaction of caring for something over time and to enjoy the fruits of their labour. Being closer to nature has the potential to make us all understand our world better. Here are some projects to do with your children and the good news is you don’t always need a garden to do them in!
Grow your Cress from seed
If you have some party cups, plastic cups, yogurt pots, or seed trays, these will all do for growing from seed. You can sow cress seeds on the surface of a damp compost or if you don’t have potting compost then you can put some wet kitchen roll at the bottom and then damp cotton wool on top of that. Evenly spread the seeds on top of the cotton wool and press them down gently. Put the pots in a warm place that gets some sunlight like a windowsill, keep them damp and watch the cress grow. Should take around 7 days.
Do something imaginative like creating a garden on a plate
All you need is a plate for the base, which you can line with foil if you want to use it again. On your walk, you can pick up bits of wood, twigs, plants and little stones, bits of moss or lichen and some earth, then you can let your imagination run wild creating a magical garden! Maybe even include a pond, out of half a yogurt pot or a jar lid too?
This doesn’t have to be complicated. Simply cut the middle section out of a plastic bottle and fill it with various sizes of twigs, bark and cones, wrap string around it and hang it about 1.5m off the ground in sunlight or light shade. If you want to accommodate bees too, add in bamboo canes chopped into the same lengths to provide different sizes of holes and group these together within the bundle.
These are ideally planted around March – May but give it a go!. You can plant in the ground but if you simply want to have a bit of fun with this, use a container with drainage holes or even a long life shopping bag and cut some drainage holes in the bottom and sit it somewhere sheltered with good light, outside. Put a layer of peat-free multi-purpose compost at the base and then add your seed potatoes (eyes pointing up) and completely cover with approx. 75mm of compost, and water-in. When you see the stems at about 23cm high draw the soil up to the stems and as the stems grow, repeat the process. This helps to protect the developing potatoes from light that can turn potato tubers green. Green potatoes are poisonous. Keep well-watered. They will take approx. 70-120 days until harvest and will need to be kept frost free.
Use a peat-free multi-purpose compost to fill up a 7.5cm pot to 1cm below the rim. Poke a hole in the centre of each pot and put one seed in each pot, fill up with about 1.5cm of compost and water-in. Keep somewhere warm that gets plenty of sunlight or if you have some small plastic bottles hanging around, cut the bottoms off and use the top part as a cloche.
Collect branches and long twigs or if you have long, garden canes this would be ideal for starting off the structure. Make a tripod and tie in the top, then gradually add in layers, tying them in as you go. If you really want to get serious, you could try this with living willow.
Make a pond
This is so easy! You will need a bowl, planter or washing up basin. Put some gravel to cover the bottom of it (approximately 70mm deep). Surround the bowl with bigger stones or bricks so that the level of the top is level with the bricks/stones so wildlife can get in and more importantly back out of it. Put a branch or bit of wood in or build up the stones at one end in the bowl to meet the level outside the bowl, just to make sure they can. If you can be patient and let the bowl fill up with rainwater or take from a water butt, this is best. Then simply plant up with some Aquatic pond plants and wait to see who arrives!