One of the things we love doing is growing our own food and flowers. Organic gardening has become one of my passions in life. Several years ago I decided to try to grow some runner beans in pots and now I have a couple of fairly large raised vegetable beds, chickens and a selection of fruit trees. From the moment my first son could toddle he has helped me in the garden, using his own miniature versions of gardening tools to learn the basics of weeding, sowing seeds and looking for slugs and aphids. Gardening with kids can be so inspirational, their joy at digging up a potato or eating a raspberry straight from the bush cannot be topped. My favourite memory of my children is of them sitting in our garden eating peas directly from the pods.
There are loads of things you can do with children in the garden and a multitude of books and websites on the topic, each time I go to the library I find more gems! The two pages which I keep returning to are the Royal Horticultural Society’s page and Gardening with Kids which has the most fabulous inspirational blog. I think that it’s really important to start kids gardening from the minute they start moving about; they can learn so much about nature, wildlife and food but they can also use the garden as a place to explore texture, colour, smell and sound. These are all incredibly important in terms of their development and the more opportunities you give them, the better.
Gardening by its very nature is seasonal and May is a perfect time in the garden, with Spring well under way and the weather much brighter I find it hard to keep my children indoors. Its a time when I really start thinking about how to use the space we have, which is fairly limited. This year, thanks to the children’s enthusiasm at seed planting, we will be using loads of gro-bags as additional bedding and I’ve had to create a new raised bed in our front garden!
There are loads of jobs you can do this month, this is what we will be doing:
•Planting out our seedings. This year we have propagated Sweet Peas, Basil, Pumpkin, Courgette, Peas, Onions, Beetroot and Tomatoes. My family love home grown vegetables, and because we’ve ran out of space in our little greenhouse I’ll be nipping to the local garden centre to have a look for some organic grown carrot seedlings, and some runner beans which can be planted in pots.
•Grow some salad from seed. This is something we do often just to keep our supplies fresh and its lovely to see the quick results. I’m going to use a selection of quirky pots and containers this month; old wellies, customised yogurt pots and old bath toys.
•Weed, weed, weed! Vegetable plants are small at the moment and you want to maximise growth potential so its best to keep the weeds to a minimum. Just make sure the children know the difference between your vegetables and a weed…
•Go on a snail and slug hunt. Every evening at dusk arm the children with little pots and encourage them to collect up all the snails and slugs they can find. We have a results chart and encourage a bit of healthy competition to help hunt them down. They haven’t yet realised that chickens are the best slug hunters so all they need do is to follow them around.