A few reasons to encourage their little green fingers:
• They'll hone new skills
• It’s good fun
• They can learn about science and nature
• It will teach them to care about the environment and self-sustainability
• It will help them work alongside other people
• They’ll learn the responsibility of caring for something
• They’ll get physical exercise and fresh air
• It will teach them about where food comes from
• It will nurture their creative side
A few regular garden-related tasks to give your children:
• Checking for bugs and disease
• Washing produce
• Helping prepare food
Ideal foods for your kids to plant in your kitchen yard include:
• Cress heads
Draw a funny face on an old, clean yogurt pot. Put wet kitchen paper in the bottom and damp cotton wool on top of that. Spread cress seeds on top and press down gently (add food colouring for 'punk cress heads'). Put it in the sunlight and watch the 'hair' grow!
Strawberries look beautiful in hanging baskets. Ask your kids to plant their seeds in different pots and hang up with name tags so they can watch their strawberries grow.
Some children are very impatient, but you can harvest basil grown from seedlings after about 40 days. Your little ones will be very proud picking their own basil leaves then making pesto.
• Potato barrels
Cultivate spuds in an old bin, wine barrel, wooden box or disused car tyre. Don’t overfill, water them regularly and make sure there are drainage holes.
Deeply plant cherry tomatoes about 60cm apart. They can be tied to a trellis or trained to grow up a fence. As they start to turn red, the kids will appreciate the bright colours and smells as they pick them.
Cos or butter lettuces grow from seedlings. The children can give them weekly feeds of molasses and pick the outer leaves for their sandwiches.
Other back yard activities for kids include:
• Making barometers
• Desigining a water feature
• Building a scarecrow
• Making mud pies (what’s more fun than getting dirty?)
• Creating a worm farm or compost heap
• Learning about sundials
Safe and secure
Take these precautions when gardening with children:
• Make sure all dangerous tools are locked away in your shed
• Make sure any water is cordoned off (eg. pools, ponds)
• Keep your garden chemical-free and put all fertilisers out of reach of small hands
• Make sure they always wear sunscreen when they’re gardening