Winter’s last icy grip clutched the South Island in August, but the great news is that spring is finally here. Technically, at least. And with it, spring gardening.
If you’re not quite feeling it yet, take a quick look in your garden. There are bound to be spring bulbs pushing up through the late, lingering frosts.
Spring is a time of incredible growth in the garden, and a brilliant time to get the kids outside on a weekend to learn how to make things grow.
Decide what you want to plant
The sky is the limit here, but certain crops will grow better depending on your soil type.
Ask your kids what they would like to grow. It’s a well-proven fact that if kids are involved with growing vegetables, they are much more likely to eat the vegetables.
Here are just a few crops that you can plant in spring:
You can plant tomatoes, capsicum, courgettes and cucumbers a bit later in the spring. Also consider planting some flowers in the garden. Choose some easy-care varieties that offer lots of bright colour; pansies for example.
Soil starts to warm up in spring; the days get longer and it’s the perfect time for planting.
Soil is the foundation of your gardening: if you don’t get it right, nothing will grow to its full potential. It’s best to prepare your soil before planting with compost, and depending on what you are growing, other soil enhancers such as blood and bone. Your local garden centre will be able to advise what will work best for what you are growing.
Once you’ve bought the bags home, digging in the compost is something that even your smallest littlie can get involved with. A kids’ beach bucket and spade set are perfect for transporting the compost from the bag to the garden and digging it in.
Plants or seeds?
You can easily buy small plants that are ready to go, and they’re often a good choice because kids can quickly see the results of spring growth. You may, however, choose to use seeds.
Some seeds can be planted directly into the garden – like peas, beans and carrots. Others, such as courgettes, need to be carefully cultivated in a seed pottle tray until they’re big enough to be transferred to the garden. They need to be very carefully watered, or sometime just sprayed with a water mist bottle, daily.
If you do buy seeds, choose a seed raising mix that is light and free-draining, and has a starter fertiliser and fungicide to protect seeds and help germination.
Make a roster and assign your kids watering duty each day. Teach them how to make sure the plants are getting enough water but not drowning.
Weeding isn’t a big chore if you do it regularly. Weeds absorb precious nutrients from your soil, stealing them from the plants you’re trying to grow. Show your kids how to pull up the weeds without damaging the plants.
Reap the benefits
Before you know it, your little seeds will become little plants, and your little plants will become big plants that produce lots of vegetables. Your kids will love gardening, and eating fresh veggies straight from the garden!
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