Little Green Fingers
I am not a great gardener. Edd is loathe to let me loose with the secateurs after a few too many pruning incidents that have resulted in ruined plants. I also cannot keep a house plant alive. I am however allowed to mow the lawn and water the pots. All the responsibility.
Edd on the other hand loves the garden and his knowledge of plants and gardening is immense. He has inherited this from his Dad and Grandad and learnt so much from them over the years. He will spend hours taking cuttings, growing plants and pottering in the greenhouse and the garden is filled with all manner of amazing home grown goodies in our veggie and fruit patch. I’m pretty lucky.
I’m so pleased that he is trying to teach the girls to love gardening and to nurture and care for plants. It’s all about just getting them involved but they love it. Obviously they aren’t going to be pruning the rose bush any time soon but they do love seeing what Daddy is doing. Molly also has a strange love for any worm she digs up in the process proudly bringing them to show me. Mainly as Edd has told her how much I hate them!
You don’t need a big garden to get the kids involved and Becky has recently been finding ways of giving Leo his own little patch at their rental property. It goes to show that you really can let the kids release their inner Monty no matter where you live. With kids it’s all about quick results and having something interesting at the end to provide reinforcement so either a crop to eat or pretty flowers to look at. As it’s British Flowers week we thought we would celebrate all things outdoors with some of our favourite ways of getting the little’s involved in gardening. And if you fancy some top tips on summer pots hop over to Rock My Style.
First up buying their own set of mini tools is a great way of getting them involved. It could be a small watering can as as cute as it is watching a toddler try to lift a giant watering can it’s not so fun when they end up spilling it all over them. Believe me, I’ve been there. Becky also has a mini wheelbarrow which Leo loves pushing around especially collecting up the cut grass after Anthony has mown the lawn.
Think about what space you have available for planting. Even if you do have a huge garden it’s worth starting small where kids are concerned. You don’t want to overwhelm them but also you want them to be able to easily look after the things they plant. Get a few nice pots or give them a small area of a flower bed. Wilko has a great selection for really good prices. Becky was on the look out for a larger area for Leo to plant in and I spied these brilliant fold up containers which are great for her rental property and she can easily pack them away when not in use.
Make sure you talk to them about the plants you might have in the garden. Tell them what they are called and talk to them about the colour and shape of the leaves and flowers. Let them touch the leaves and petals and see how it grows. Obviously you don’t want them breaking all the flowers but it’s great for them to have the opportunity to see all the plants. When you are planting things explain what you are doing and why they need to water the plants and care for them. When choosing your mixture of plants have a look at different textures and colours to keep them interested.
It’s so much fun going to the garden centre and letting them choose their own flowers and plants. They will love getting to look at all the colours and seeing what they want grow. It’s obviously good to choose something that is easy for them to look after and also make sure you think about the space you have available. We are slightly late in bringing you this post (sorry) so if you are growing from seed check the planting dates for ones that are suitable for sowing now. Otherwise buy some plants that are already established and plant these out in beds or containers.
Some easy flowers for kids are nasturtium as they are almost impossible not to grow and produce lots of flowers you can eat in salads or use for cooking. Dahlia’s are another lovely option as they produce the prettiest flowers. California poppy (Eschscholzia) is good with lots of nice orange flowers and don’t forget fuchsias. They are easy to care for as slugs hate them and produce loads of flowers. Alice currently has a habit of going round popping them open which is something I remember doing as a kid and annoys Edd no end! You will need to bring them in over the winter though as they need frost protection. Pansies are also a great option as they will flower in to the winter and I’m pretty sure most kids would love snapdragons for the name alone.
I’m also a big fan of Lavender as it has the most amazing scent that kids will love and is also pretty robust. Also excellent for making some wonderful perfume as we did when we were kids! Who wouldn’t want a bottle full of lavender water?!
Learning About Food
Learning about fruit and veg and where it comes from is brilliant for kids. Who knows, it may even encourage them to eat some! I’m lucky that we have a huge vegetable patch and the raspberry cage and strawberry plants are regularly raided when the girls play in the garden. Funny how they will happily munch away when they pick them themselves as opposed to out the fridge. You don’t need to have lots of space though to get growing some fruit and veg.
Strawberry plants are a super option for little ones. You might not get a bumper crop but they will love seeing the fruit appear. You could just have a few little pots of their own or a terracotta pot with planting holes is perfect for berries. Cherry Tomatoes are another great small space option and you can buy some tomato grow bags to leave on a patio or broadbeans are also easy to grow and the kids should have fun popping them all out the pods. Herbs are great for learning too as have high scent, easy to grow and you can cook with them. Try something robust like rosemary or sage. As we are slightly later in the growing season you could try some quick growing things such as lettuce, which can sprout within 12 days, or radishes which you should still get some nice crops from.
A little bit of responsibility is good for kids and helps them understand that they need to look after plants to help them grow. Once they have planted their chosen plant make sure you tell them the importance of looking after it, watering it and caring for it to make sure it stays healthy. They will love seeing the plants shoot up and how they change over time.
Make It Fun
Most of all make it fun for them. You want them to enjoy gardening and learning about plants. Don’t stress if they make a mess, as they will, and don’t worry if the plants don’t flourish. It’s all abut learning and enjoying.
Who else is getting out in the garden and letting your little one’s explore?