Whatever their age, gardening is a great activity to do with your children. They can discover how things grow, why some plants grow more quickly than others and the difference between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ insects. Getting out in the garden will also get lots of fresh air into their lungs while having fun at the same time.
Our own gardeners have been busy creating lovely landscaping on our resorts in recent months. Why not encourage your children’s interest by giving them their own little sunny patch at home? Before you know it, they’ll have green fingers for life…
Wildlife window box
You don’t need a large garden to attract wildlife – you can lure all sorts of creatures with this brilliant window box
- Choose a rectangular planter that fits on a windowsill, then let your kids pick some wildlife-friendly plants. Herbs such as thyme, chives, parsley and rosemary are ideal, as they have pollen-rich flowers that will attract butterflies, bees and other insects. French marigolds and lavender will add a splash of colour.
- Cover the drainage holes in the box with stones, then fill almost to the top with multi-purpose compost. Let your kids arrange the plants on top, then plant them when they’re happy with the display.
- Cover the top with gravel – spiders and other tiny bugs will hide in the gaps between the stones.
Plants that bite
Children will happily spend hours watching a Venus flytrap snap shut or waiting for an insect to get stuck on the gluey pads of a sundew
- Help your kids choose some insect-eating plants, such as pitcher plants, butterworts, Venus flytraps and sundews.
- Arrange five on top of a 30cm (12in) pot filled with a carnivorous plant compost (available from garden centres), then plant them when your children are happy with the display.
- Place in a partly shaded spot (bring them indoors in winter). To keep the plants healthy, don’t let the compost dry out. Place a large saucer under the pot and top it up regularly with rainwater from a butt.
Ripe, juicy strawberries are irresistible – let your children pick their own this summer by growing lots in a special planter
- Start by buying a strawberry planter. These are large terracotta pots with planting pockets around the outside. You’ll also need enough strawberry plants to fill all the pockets, plus one for the top – they are widely available from garden centres and DIY stores.
- To prevent clogging, place stones over the drainage hole at the bottom of the container. Then add a layer of multi-purpose compost to just below the level of the first row of pockets.
- Remove a plant from its pot and plant into a pocket. Repeat until the first row has been planted. Add more compost and plant up the second level of pockets. Leave a 3cm gap between the surface of the compost and the container lip. Finish off with one more plant in the centre.
- Place the planter in a sunny spot, and get your kids to water it daily. They’ll get a bigger crop if they feed the plants once a week – just add a few drops of liquid tomato fertiliser to the watering can.
Race you to the top!
Let your children challenge each other to see who can grow the tallest sunflower by the end of summer. Get them to measure how tall the flowers grow and how big the heads are – they could even take photos.
Get your green-fingered little ones to grow their own veg – they’ll love picking and eating them. Go for fast-growing crops so they see results quickly: radishes, baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, lettuce and dwarf French beans are perfect. These will thrive in a pot or grow bag on the patio, too.
Grow colourful annual flowers in old teapots, jugs, colanders and other funky containers filled with multi-purpose compost. Buy ready-grown plants for planting in late spring when there’s no danger of frost. Marigolds, begonias, petunias and busy lizzies are all ideal.