Spring is the perfect time to teach your kids how easy it is to grow fruit and veggies, writes gardening enthusiast Kineta Booker.
When my 7-year-old came home declaring he’d joined the gardening club at school, it was a very good day indeed. Had all those precious years of helping me in the garden paid off? Apparently not. He just wanted a badge for his school uniform.
Albeit slightly deflated, I suggested it was time for his very own veggie patch at home. So, from our family to yours, here are some ideas to start a new generation of green fingers and dirty hands.
- Start small. ‘Square-foot gardening’ is an efficient method of growing food in, you guessed it, one square foot.
- Pots are another great idea, especially for vertical growth. Together with some bamboo sticks or growing cages, pots make a good foundation for peas, beans and tomatoes.
- Keep your kids excited about gardening by choosing fast-growing veggies. Radishes are a good one to watch. You can harvest lettuce and spinach a leaf at a time.
- The easiest fruit to grow is strawberries. Grow plenty! They’re a great snack, straight from the garden.
Once established, raspberries, rhubarb and feijoas are also favourites.
- Add some bee-friendly plants to your patch to attract the pollinators to your backyard, such as lavender, marigold and sunflowers. You could also explain the importance of having bees in your garden.
- Have a fun sunflower-growing competition in your family. A bit of gardening rivalry keeps children invested in the project.
- Ensure your garden is watered every couple of days, more often in summer. It’s a fun job for the little people.
Growing veggies from seeds takes time, but you can make it fun by turning it into an experiment.
Germinate seeds on paper
All you need is seeds, a paper towel/newspaper, a plastic sandwich bag.
- Rip paper towel in half. Wet one of the halves.
- Space out four seeds on the wet half. Place dry half on top.
- Put paper towel in plastic bag and close it. It has now become a tiny glasshouse. Label bag with seed name.
- Place bag out of direct sunlight. Over the next few days, you can watch your seeds grow.
- When they look big enough to plant into the garden, carefully take out the newly sprouted seedlings. Don’t touch the fragile roots. Cut a paper towel up into four sections and plant directly into your garden, paper towel and all. Make a hole with your finger in the soil before placing the seedling in.
- Watch your veggies grow!
A few tips
- As a general rule, any seedlings that are in store can be planted at that time of year.
- If you buy seedlings, don’t plant all of them at once. Space them out over a few weeks, so they’re not all ready at the same time.
- Allocating your children their own space in the garden gives them a tremendous feeling of ownership and responsibility.
- Be safe! Always wear a mask when working with potting mix and wash your hands after gardening – or wear gloves!