Cre­at­ing green thumbs

Plant mem­o­ries for life by giv­ing kids con­trol of their own space

Life & Style Weekend - - GARDEN - With Ma­ree Cur­ran

CHRIST­MAS is over, and the kids are on school hol­i­days. Why not get them in­volved in some gar­den ac­tiv­i­ties? They will have a great time. Don’t be sur­prised if the project you had in mind at the start morphs into some­thing dif­fer­ent by the end. That’s part of the fun of be­ing in the gar­den.

Give the kids their own pot or space in the gar­den to grow what­ever they want. A pun­net of flow­ers or some pot­ted colour won’t break the bank, but make sure you give the plants the right con­di­tions so your child will have suc­cess. Use pre­mium pot­ting mix in a pot, and en­rich soil with well com­posted or­ganic mat­ter for great re­sults in the gar­den.

Plant seeds and watch them grow. Beans, corn and nas­tur­tiums are easy for lit­tle hands to man­age, and they are pretty re­li­able, ger­mi­nat­ing within seven to 10 days. They are also yummy to eat straight, as are cherry toma­toes. If you plant let­tuce now, the first young leaves will be ready to pick within a week or so.

In­volve the young­sters in the de­ci­sions about what to plant, and where. Most kids re­ally en­joy nur­tur­ing plants and watch­ing them grow. But make it easy for them – heavy wa­ter­ing cans and adult-sized tools are dif­fi­cult for small hands to man­age. Get some child-sized tools to keep it fun.

You don’t even need a gar­den. You can use old pots, or boots, or tins, or an old rusty wheel­bar­row. Just about any con­tainer can be painted or dec­o­rated and then planted with masses of flow­ers or dwarf beans. There are plenty of gor­geous and in­ex­pen­sive planter pots avail­able if that suits you bet­ter. What­ever pots you choose, I’d rec­om­mend an­nu­als for this job, be­cause they usu­ally flower quickly and pro­lif­i­cally. Af­ter a few months, when they need to be re­placed, you can ex­per­i­ment with some­thing dif­fer­ent.

Plenty of fun can be had in the gar­den once the plant­ing is done. Build a fairy house in a se­cret cor­ner. Use flow­ers, leaves, twigs, berries, peb­bles – what­ever is on hand. And who knows, maybe the fairies will visit overnight and leave traces of their pres­ence.

Or build a sim­ple te­pee large enough for the kids to sit in. Long, smooth branches or canes cut from some­thing you have grow­ing in the gar­den will be fine, or grab a packet of tall bam­boo stakes. Plant it with climb­ing beans. It will quickly be­come a liv­ing tent, a great lit­tle hide­away.

Make a scare­crow, or a bird feeder, or set up a trea­sure hunt. If you’re not sure how, do a quick in­ter­net search – there are so many fab­u­lous ideas there you won’t know where to start.

When gar­den­ing with chil­dren, just make sure you keep it fun, keep it sim­ple, and give them plenty of con­trol. Ev­ery­one will have a great time.

Got a gar­den­ing ques­tion? Email ma­ree@ede­nat­by­ron.com.au

PHOTO: THINKSTOCK

Sum­mer is the per­fect time to get the kids in the gar­den.

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