Gar­den notes: child’s play

Want to turn your chil­dren into green thumbs? Make gar­den­ing an ex­cit­ing ad­ven­ture, writes Jackie French.

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - CONTENTS - AWW

Gar­den­ing is fun, es­pe­cially for chil­dren. Here are my school hol­i­day temp­ta­tions to lure your kids away from their screens and into the gar­den.

Grow an ele­phant in the back­yard (start small!)

Topi­ary is the art of shap­ing bushes into neat or fas­ci­nat­ing shapes. Some­times it takes years, but if you use a fast-grow­ing bush you’ll have an ele­phant… or horse... or di­nosaur… or el­e­gant tri­an­gle… within six months.

Props needed: A fast-grow­ing shrub like a small pot­ted pho­tinia or dwarf lil­lyp­illy. A favourite topi­ary shape. Hunt out a sup­plier on­line. There will be hun­dreds of shapes to choose from.

Method: Plant the shrub in the ground or a large pot. Fit the shape over it. Ev­ery time a leaf or twig pokes out be­yond the wire shape, cut it off.

Keep trim­ming. It’s that easy!

Bean teepee

Props needed: 6 tall tomato stakes. 6 large pots filled with pot­ting mix. 18 climb­ing bean seeds. 1 ham­mer. Wa­ter, kids and a gar­den.

Method: Plant three seeds in each pot. Wa­ter each day till seedlings emerge. Show the kids how to ham­mer the stakes in on an an­gle so their tops meet in the mid­dle. Place a pot by each stake and over the next 2-3 weeks twine the beans up the poles.

Re­sult: A green teepee cave, a cubby where you can reach up and crunch the beans.

Plant ‘Hello, Grandma’, a map of New Zealand or a draw­ing of a di­nosaur

Props needed: An empty gar­den bed or one dug in the lawn (but they should ask per­mis­sion first).

Seedlings: Alyssum, pan­sies and petu­nias will grow fast, but there are lots to choose from. Avoid “spread­ing petu­nias” that will sprawl all over the gar­den.

Method: Mark out the words, map or di­nosaur on ground. Plant the seedlings. Wa­ter well, and then feed ac­cord­ing to di­rec­tions on the packet. Wait! In two or three weeks dur­ing sum­mer, the words or shape should be clear, and in six weeks they will look won­der­ful!

Per­son­alise their fruit and vegeta­bles

Props needed: A fruit­ing tomato, zuc­chini or ap­ple. Brown pa­per, scis­sors and duct tape.

Method: Write the child’s name in run­ning writ­ing in big fat let­ters on brown pa­per. Cut it out care­fully.

Use the trans­par­ent sticky tape to tape it firmly across the fruit.

As the fruit or veg ripens, their name will stay green un­derneath the pa­per. When it’s ripe pick it, pull off tape and pa­per – and you have an in­di­vid­u­alised piece of fruit ready for them to show off on the first day of school.

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