Sow­ing the seeds of love

Great ways to get your kids into the won­drous world of gar­den­ing

Rutherglen Reformer - - House & Home - Diar­muid Gavin

With sum­mer here it’s a great time for fam­i­lies to spend some time to­gether out­doors – and what bet­ter place to do this than a gar­den? There are plenty of fun pro­jects, and what’s more cre­ative than grow­ing some­thing new?

While the weather’s nice, it’s the best time of year to get chil­dren in­ter­ested in this healthy and pro­duc­tive hobby – so here are some sug­ges­tions...

Sow some seeds: It might seem a bit late in the grow­ing sea­son but there are some quick seed-to-ma­tu­rity plants that can be planted di­rectly out­side now. You’ll need your seeds, of course, plus a bit of seed com­post and some yo­ghurt car­tons or plas­tic bot­tles cut in half with a few drainage holes.

Mus­tard and cress are the most ob­vi­ous things to grow and they are still the most mag­i­cal as they’ll pop up within a week. You will only need some wet cot­ton wool placed in a con­tainer to pro­vide the per­fect grow­ing en­vi­ron­ment for the seeds.

Sprin­kle them on finely and leave in a warm, light place. Use a sten­cil to cre­ate an­i­mals or stars for bril­liant seedling shapes.

Nas­tur­tiums have big seeds that are easy to han­dle and ger­mi­nate quickly to give colour­ful flow­ers in yel­low, red and or­ange. And they’re ed­i­ble! Mean­while, Nigella dam­a­s­cena, Love-in-a-Mist, is an old cot­tage gar­den favourite that will de­light with its com­bi­na­tion of ferny fo­liage and pretty blue flow­ers. Its easy ger­mi­na­tion will en­cour­age bud­ding gar­den­ers. Sun­flower seeds are per­fect for kids be­cause they are amazed that such a mas­sive flower comes from one small seed. Why not or­gan­ise a fam­ily com­pe­ti­tion to see who can grow the tallest? Cut and come again let­tuce is great for chil­dren to learn where food comes from while radish is an­other easy to grow crop which ma­tures fast. If you sow them now, you could be har­vest­ing them in around a month’s time – a sim­ple but re­ward­ing ac­tiv­ity for the chil­dren. Car­rots are an­other veg that will pique kids’ in­ter­est with their multi-coloured pro­duce. They’re quite easy to grow from seed and the likes of ‘Rain­bow Mix’ will cre­ate yel­low, pur­ple and red car­rots! Lim­nan­thes is known as the poached egg plant as it has a bright egg yolk-coloured cen­tre on a white back­ground. Easy to grow, it’s good for at­tract­ing ben­e­fi­cial in­sects as well. Pump­kins will pro­vide all you need for the next Hal­loween. It’s a lit­tle late to start sow­ing th­ese now as you’d nor­mally start them off in April in­doors, but as with many other veg and flow­er­ing plants, you can cheat by buy­ing small seedlings in the gar­den cen­tre. They are ready for out­door plant­ing now.

Suc­cu­lents and cacti are all the rage at the mo­ment and small plants can be picked up cheaply in lots of stores. Cre­ate a mini desert land­scape with sand and add fea­tures from the toy box such as lit­tle cowboys or an­i­mals to spark their imag­i­na­tion.

Sec­tion off an area of the gar­den for the chil­dren – let them take own­er­ship and re­spon­si­bil­ity for their own patch. There are plenty of kid-size tools that will help to en­cour­age them and are eas­ier for lit­tle hands to use.

To stim­u­late an in­ter­est in gar­den­ing, just walk around with them point­ing out fun things such as snap­drag­ons, fox­gloves, and tac­tile and soft plants such as stachys.

Get chil­dren to close their eyes and iden­tify some of the won­der­ful smells in the herb gar­den such as mint, thyme, rose­mary, laven­der and lemon balm.

Crush Nepeta to re­lease its fra­grance, in­hale the sweet smell of roses, watch a bee bur­row into a flower for nec­tar and en­joy the de­li­cious choco­late aroma from Cos­mos atrosan­guineus. Open their eyes to the won­der that is na­ture and the joy of out­door life and it will be re­paid for years to come.

Work­ing to­gether in the gar­den is a great way to teach chil­dren about the won­ders of na­ture Nas­tur­tiums, bring quick colour and easy to grow

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