Jean Vernon, Gardening Correspondent for The Daily Telegraph, shares her top tips to help make planting easy and enjoyable.
Planting is a simple way to have fun with your little ones. Not only do plants keep them busy – giving them something exciting to look after – but they also instantly brighten up your garden or home. You don’t need to be a expert and it really doesn’t need to be a chore!
The great outdoors is a wonderful, educational playground for kids. It’s a place to play and learn and the perfect environment to bond with nature. Early, happy and fun associations formed with plants and gardens will stay with your child for life.
Container gardening is the ideal place to start, however big or small your plot.
Here are Jean’s top tips:
Sowing from seeds is fun but it’s slow. If gardening doesn’t come naturally to you then buy ready grown plants to save time and ensure success. Little ones want to see results fast. So plant larger ‘garden ready’ plants in your planter.
Make it fun. Choose things to grow that they love to eat, grow flowers that attract butterflies or plants that smell nice such as herbs. Some plants like mint can be all of those things and more.
Help children to grow food for their pets, such as fresh salad for rabbits and guinea pigs. A packet of lettuce seed will grow hundreds of plants, so sow a few seeds each week or fortnight and plant into your planter when they are large enough to handle.
Give them their own planter to care for. Oversee but try not to interfere. ‘Crop failures’ happen, even to experts. Choose easy plants for the next adventure and learn from mistakes. Something like Lechuza planters would be great, as they are designed to take the confusion out of watering, feeding and growing. Just add plants and water and you’ll have months and months of fun!
Have a garden party with the children and their friends. Buy some plants and compost and help them all to plant and grow together. It’s nice for children to have friends to share their new hobby with so that they can play and plant together.
Add a few toys to the mix. You can tie plastic toys to bamboo canes as cane toppers and push them into the compost to brighten things up or to mark where you’ve planted bulbs.
Let children help to water. Again, Lechuza planters are ideal for growing plants outside. Remove the drainage plug underneath and they can’t be overwatered. The integral water reservoir ensures they are watered if you are away or the planters are neglected or forgotten for some reason.
If gardening isn’t your ‘thing’ then team them up with someone who knows a bit more, so that they can share their passion. Maybe they have an aunt, a grandparent or a close friend who would make a good garden buddy.
Children love to help, buy them some fun and functional gardening toys that so that they can copy adults in the garden. There are lots of kiddie tools; watering cans and the all-essential pint-sized gardening gloves are available in garden centres.
Don’t be scared of letting them get their hands dirty. If you use fresh-bagged compost from the garden centre it should be clean and sterilised.
If you use plant stakes of any sort, always add a cane topper to protect everyone’s eyes.
Make sure that you and your little ones are up-to-date on tetanus immunisation. It’s a rare disease but it’s nasty if you get it. As long as your jabs are sorted you should be fine, but always check with your GP.