4 May 2010

Kids Gardening

Not a day goes by when my daughter asks, 'Can we plant the garden?' Actually it's not really a question, she grabs her shoes, heads for the door and waits with her little spade. As we have had most of the soil and plants spread across the kitchen floor, I gave in and recruited an expert – Grandad!

Outside on our decked area, we haven't much space so Grandad suggested we put up window boxes and plant strawberries in them, plant peas in flower pots and lettuce in tubs. We have potatoes ready to go straight into the ground and runner beans sprouting around bamboo canes ready to be set-up.
Now it's a waiting game – to see what will grow!
This is the story of 'How To Grow Your Own Vegetables' at Sarah's Home Day Care.

Day 1: Finding A Good Spot
Where on earth do you plant flowers, fruit and vegetables if you have limited space. Make use of every corner, every window, every step and you will make a unique feature at the same time. Hanging baskets can be placed at doorways or in corners, window boxes are ideal for herbs and small or trailing plants and patio tubs and planters can be placed anywhere.
But what to plant? Ok I like an easy life and I'm by no means green fingered, so I need quick, easy and cheap. I scoured lots of books on the subject and finally settled on Green Thumbs by Laurie Carlson (Amazon).

Day 2: What To Plant
After scouring the aisles at the gardening store,( The Range is good) and trying to stop a little tinker clearing every plant pot in her path with her feet, I selected the following:

Sweet Basil
Curley Parsley

Plum Tomatoes
Romano Tomatoes


We also got given some beans and the peas, for some reason people become really generous when they know you are planting. I also had some potatoes we hadn't eaten and had started to sprout so I can out them straight into the ground too.
We also need about 20 little flower pots and saucers, 2 large black rectangular trays, a gorgeous ceramic blue planter (couldn't resist) and 3 or 4 bags of Tomorite Grow Bags. They are designed to plant tomatoes straight into but I use them for the other plants also as the soil is really rich in nutrients.
All in all it cost me about £20 and I got lots of freebies from friends.

Day 3: Sign Me Up
Today we made signs so that we know what we are growing. Some plants come with little picture labels which we placed straight into the tubs. We also got lolly sticks and decorated them in fun ways to add to the pots.

Day 4: Planting Day
If you've got beans, get them going by wrapping them in a wet towel and place in a warm place. In a couple of days they will start to sprout. Put these in trays or plant pots. If planting in trays, place about 10cm apart. Sometimes gardening is trial and error and you never really know how it's going to turn out until it's done.

Keep little plants in a greenhouse or under cover until established. This will prevent them being too vulnerable to the weather.
We did ours under the car port, so the plants would be protected from the elements. We used old scaffolding planks across a couple of bricks to make shelves. Then set up the pots and trays, pour in the grow bag soil to the top and make little holes with our fingers to plant our little babies in.
I couldn't believe how absorbed and affirmed my little stars were and how much was learnt. We now have strawberries in the window box, lettuce in the lower window box, herbs in the blue planters, cucumbers in another and tomatoes and peas in trays.

Waiting Game
Yes it is a bit of a waiting game but each day they need watering and regularly topped up with fertiliser, but they will soon grow. The lettuce should be ready within 4 weeks and there's nothing better than eating food you have grown yourself!

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