Vegetable Growing Tips To Help Get Your Kids In The Garden

Tips to get your kids in the garden

The fun and adventure of gardening is something that appeals to people of all ages. To children especially and they can learn from us, the buzz of exploring around the garden for the first time and getting their hands dirty can be a magical experience that leaves them engaged for hours on end. Knowing the right way to introduce your kids to the world of gardening however, can leave many parents scratching their heads, the first thing is to ensure you’re garden is child proof.

The to-do list of tasks needed to keep a garden in prime condition throughout the year can be tedious and the prospect of your little ones helping you get the lawn mower out or deadhead your plants is a non-starter altogether, they’ll be fascinated by scissors, shears, or secateurs. But far from being a dangerous experience, introducing your children to gardening doesn’t have to be dull or diluted.

One of the most interesting and creative ways to get the kids gardening is to attract birds into the garden. You could try making a nice bird feeder. Talking of birds, slightly bigger ones(chickens) keep kids interested for hours everyday. Once we put up our chicken coop my son religiously dug for worms everyday of the last summer. Be warned though, chickens come with some downsides.

Growing vegetables is a fantastic way of showing children the wonders of the natural environment and with such a wide range of options available, the fun never has to stop! It can start early in the season with a propagator and some plant trays.

Keeping kids interested

One of the biggest plus points of vegetable growing is the relatively quick amount of time it takes for them to harvest. Getting children to buy into an activity which gives very little back during the start of the growing process can be difficult.

But with many of the more popular garden favourites, children can see the results for themselves after a matter of weeks, instead of several months. As well as proving a rewarding experience for all involved, it’s also a relatively hassle free one. Most vegetables are extremely versatile plants that are simple to sow and generally low maintenance, great for a frugal gardener, meaning that parents of all gardening backgrounds can help their kids join in the fun,

 

Choosing the right vegetable

If you’ve decided to take the plunge and begin growing vegetables, it’s important to pick the right option for you. While you want to grow something that’s quick, easy and relatively low maintenance, it’s also important to try and find a vegetable that your children will want to eat. We’ve accumulated some of the garden favourites along with an easy-to-follow set of guidelines laying out the timescale for harvest.

Carrots

Carrots are one of the most popular vegetables with children and they’re a great way to get kids involved with the garden. you only need a few garden hand tools to get going. For early starters, carrots can be grown in a seed tray from around February indoors, before being transported outside come April. The best method is to water the roots regularly and be sure to snip excess seedlings off at soil level to keep them growing properly.

Tomatoes

  • When do I plant them? Early May time
  • Harvest time? Around 12 weeks
  • What am I sowing? Plants
  • When’s the latest I can plant them? April

Delicious, easy to eat and even easier to grow, tomatoes are the perfect choice to get your child into gardening. While you can grow from seed, growing from plant is a lot easier and it also allows your child to visibly see the plant develop. When using a grow bag, ensure that you put a growing bag frame over the bag and insert a cane next to each plant to help assist its development, tying the tomato to the cane every 10cm.

Courgettes

  • When do I plant them? Early Spring
  • Harvest time? Around 10 weeks
  • What am I sowing? Either seeds or plants
  • When’s the latest I can plant them? June

Courgettes are fantastic vegetables that help satisfy the more impatient child gardeners! When growing from seeds, start two seeds in a pot on a window sill before moving them to a permanent spot outside after a month. When you do this, make sure they’re at least a meter away in the ground and that they’re watered daily. A prolific vegetable, you’ll be able to pick courgettes up till around September after your first harvest.

Regardless of whatever vegetable you opt to grow, the process of planting it, nurturing it and then eventually eating it, is a great way of helping children get involved with the garden and understand more about how food is grown as well as getting them excited about eating healthier food.

Vegetables aren’t the only option, herbs grow really quickly in a trough on the window sill inside the house.

Growing vegetables is a low cost way of keeping children engaged and the educational benefits are a fantastic added plus of the process. So whether you fancy letting your kids grow their own tomatoes to put into their lunchboxes or harvest a few carrots for a Sunday roast, get to your online garden centre today and help kick-start the growing revolution!

Teach Children Gardening Skills For The Future

Teach Children Gardening Skills For The Future

I was delighted to see some recent news while scouring the Internet for gardening related tit-bits. It concerns a charity in Ryton, Coventry that has been campaigning to get gardening added to the UK’s school’s National Curriculum. The charity, Garden Organic, wants to give pupils the opportunity to grow their own fruit and vegetables and, thus, learn valuable gardening skills for the future. A draft version of the National Curriculum has answered their plea and has included horticulture as part of design and technology.

While the change isn’t yet set in stone it will mean that pupils will begin being taught these basic gardening skills from September next year. The draft states that from the ages of five to fourteen it should teach ‘practical knowledge, skills and crafts in fields such as “horticulture: to cultivate plants for practical purposes, such as for food or for decorative displays.”  There are practically thousands of practical things to be learnt in gardening such as how to look after plants in a drought, or what you can do to help wildlife in a drought. This addition to the curriculum might unlock the doors the bigger issues if promoting an interest in these key areas at an early age. With the Government drive to tackle the effects of obesity this couldn’t have come at a better time.

This is not only beneficial to encouraging children to think about doing horticulture as a career in the future, which will undoubtedly streamline growth in the sector, but it’s also teaching children about where their food comes from rather than just from the shops and gives them the key skills to be able to grow their own food and not rely on retail in the future.

Since our children may be part of an economy where food might be more expensive it makes sense to cut future costs, and also benefit the environment, by encouraging them to get used to growing their own food. Growing food and plants at home can almost be free, a few plant pots, a pack of seeds(if you don’t have someone who will lend a few) and a hand fork is about the total cost of setting up at home. Don’t get me wrong, you could go the whole hog; hedge trimmers, shears, protective clothing, water butts, and many more, but honestly, you don’t need all that to get started. Once it’s more than a hobby go with all the kit.

It’s splendid to see that our children will be learning about gardening in school, but I think that parents should play a part in teaching their children about gardening too, you probably remember toddler proofing your garden, this is just the next phase. Of course, for parents to do this they must also have some idea about gardening, so it’s beneficial if you take some time to learn some basic gardening skills if you haven’t already. Gardening with your children is fun, and introducing your children to where food comes from will help them immensely when it comes to being aware of the wider world food situation.

So, what can you do? Introduce your children to planting, watering and harvesting. I used to help my parents pick strawberries when I was a kid and I found it great fun, especially when you treat it as a game like kids normally do. Picking fruit and vegetables at specialised locations will help teach your children where food comes from if you don’t have your own garden, and you can also buy a plant pot or trough to grow something indoors or on the window sill if you don’t have the space to do it outside. A garden isn’t vital but if you have one teaching your kids about soil or how to compost is priceless. It’ll show them how to recycle and set in motion a mindset that won’t be undone. Another important lesson to teach is one of how work can pay off in 6 months time. Just take how we prep our garden for spring in Autumn for example. These lessons echo through all aspects of life and are valuable ideas we can pass on.

It might be a good idea to portion off a section of your garden especially for use by your children, just use a bit of plastic coated wire or old string, anything that has a feel of creating ownership, that way they feel like they have an area to call their own and have some impact on the way your garden develops. Ask them what they would like to plant there; taking them along to a garden centre to pick some plants they might want to plant, or any vegetables they’d like to grow. Kids don’t always love their vegetables, but if they have planted it and picked it they will be far more willing to eat them. So not only will your kids gain new knowledge, but they will also be far healthier in the long run too.

Gardening is a skill that everyone should have some basic knowledge in. Humans have lived off the land for thousands of years, but with the advent of your local supermarket people seem to have forgotten how to grow a carrot. The new National Curriculum will go some way to changing this, but change should also come at home too. You can start by buying your children some basic garden hand tools: Garden Hand Tools

Make Your Garden a Safe Haven for Toddlers

Make Your Garden a Safe Haven for Toddlers

If your baby has just started walking, garden safety has probably been the last thing on your mind. A long winter, albeit milder than previous years, has kept us indoors through the crawling stage but we are about ready to venture into the great unknown :).

Once a baby begins to walk however, a lot of fun can be had and it’s a wonderful time as a parent. No longer are you restricted, as a toddler can accompany you to the greenhouse(being careful of the glass itself) or play safely in the garden as you weed the vegetable patch. This is hardly possible with crawling babies as the danger of sharp rocks and stones, hard surfaces, and even pebbles can graze those little knees, and it would be pretty impractical to fit knee pads on them!

After a year or more of compromising on any free time bar the two naps a day that are normally consumed by cleaning the home, it is extremely liberating to be presented with a walking mini human being that can now become involved in your favourite pastime. You will find that jobs take twice or even four times as long as they used to however it’s never too early to introduce a child to the benefits of gardening.

For your own sanity and for the toddlers safety, it is worth spending a day simply toddler proofing the entire garden. Although you will no doubt keep a strict eye on your little one, once they do begin to walk, it’s not too long before they learn how to run. Make sure that all garden tools have a sensible storage place, and especially the cutting tools such as secateurs or saws.

You will be surprised at the amount of hazards an ordinary garden can hold, a perfect place of peace for grownups can be a recipe for disaster for little ones. Compromises must be made and you may need to accept that your chic adult garden will now need to become a miniature playground. For example your gas barbecue should probably be tucked out of the way with a nice cover on it rather than the centre piece of the patio and plant pots with prickly shrubs will need more consideration.

One of the first things to look at is the hanging baskets. They are like a magnet to kids and they will pull at them. If loose and they fall, that much weight could do serious damage.

Ponds are especially dangerous, as toddlers love to play in water, like magnets to metal they will be drawn to the water, desperate to dunk their little feet. Not a year goes by when the news doesn’t broadcast tales of accidents and worse. Covering ponds with wire, such as chicken wire will ensure that if a toddler does fall, they won’t reach the water, whilst you can still enjoy the fish or the pond plants beneath. This serves a double purpose as in autumn as the leaves fall you’ll find it catches most, keeping the pond clear. This is a right result because it’s obviously way too wet for the leaf vacuum if they fell to the water and saves considerable time on raking and picking up by hand. The good news is the compost bin won’t be empty. It may help deter cats from swiping the fish too!

There are also plants that should be avoided in a child friendly garden as their pollen is quite poisonous; these include Foxgloves and the Laburnum tree and a different danger to the prickles we’ve already mentioned.

The garden also needs to be completely secure, no matter if you live in the middle of nowhere or deep within an urban area, there are hazards everywhere beyond the garden gate. Be it traffic, tractors, rivers or steps, your toddler will want to explore, and just one quick escape will leave you half grey! Make sure there are no holes in the fence, get on your knees and check if you have to.

It’s also worth investing in some secure locks for the greenhouse and shed, putting tools away and locking away all pest control products will make sure those little chubby hands don’t touch anything they’re not supposed to.

Above all though have fun, if budgets allow clear an area of lawn and invest in a swing, a slide and a sandpit, after all there will be plenty more sunny days to come as your toddler grows and flourishes along with your glorious garden.