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

Teach your kids to garden, holiday fun

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.

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