Gardening is a great way for children to get grubby – which they all of course love – while also learning new things. You can teach them about the different plants that grow in the garden, explain how they grow and introduce them to all the garden insects (but don’t encourage putting them in glass jars or you'll soon have insects all over the house!).
The following items will come in handy for the projects below. You don’t need everything for every project, though, so take a look at what’s required before you get cracking.
Gardening tools (old ones will do)
Old clothes (gardening can be a bit mucky)
Seed trays, plastic containers and plant pots
Prunings, soil and seeds
Spring-flowering bulbs (available at the end of the summer)
Logs, stones and bamboo canes
Sow your name in seeds
If a space happens to have appeared in your garden, let the kids sow some seeds in the shape of their initials or their first name. Prepare an area of soil and get it ready for sowing. Take a piece of white chalk and write your child’s name or initials onto the soil. Then sprinkle seeds, such as cress, on top of the chalk letters, sowing quite thickly to get good coverage. Gently cover with soil and then water well. The cress should grow quite quickly and the name should ‘appear’ in a matter of days!
Make a mini garden
Create a miniature garden in a seed tray using items foraged from your garden. Start by adding a layer of soil to the bottom of the tray, creating dips and mounds to add interest. Form trees by adding cuttings from bushes, and a pond by burying a small plastic container in the soil and filling it with water. Sow a seed of your choice in the bare soil (simple grass seed often works best) and watch it grow over the holidays. Replace the ‘pruned trees’ when they look past their best.
Grow your own salad bar
Grow ready-to eat salad leaves in a pot, reaping a harvest just a couple of weeks after sowing the seeds. Fill your pot with compost and water it thoroughly. When the compost has settled sprinkle a cut-and-come-again mix of salad seed over the surface. Choose a ‘speedy’ mix for quick results. Cover the seeds with a fine layer of compost and wait for them to grow. Cut the leaves with scissors when they’re ready to eat and more will sprout in their place.
Create an insect hideout
Make a home for beneficial insects in a quiet, out-of-the-way spot. Start by making a pile of old logs and wood, and then push short pieces of bamboo cane into any gaps. Build a separate pile of stone or rock nearby. These simple structures, which can be a little unsightly, will give garden-friendly insects a place to hide out during the summer and hibernate in the winter.
Did you know?
Earth worms have the power to move stones that weigh 50 times their own weight.