Your Garden in December

Your Garden in December

Youngsters, Holidays and the Garden

The children are at home and are looking for some outdoor activities to occupy their time. What better way than to spend some good quality family hours in the garden.

The ‘snag’ however is that there is always an element of work connected to the final reward and this may put a damper on the eagerness of spending time ‘working’ outdoors. The idea then, to boost their enthusiasm, is to give the kids ownership of the project. Billy’s Beans and Broccoli on a sign or Violet’s Family Vegetables, is an easy first step in the right direction. The most important involvement from us parents is to work together with our children, teaching by show and tell.

Keep the garden projects simple and easy to achieve with uncomplicated designs such as wagon wheels or a checkerboard of bright colours incorporating both vegetables and herbs. Add a pathway and perhaps a bird bath or feeder. For sowing seeds use quick germinating varieties such as marigolds and alyssum and for the vegetables use lettuce, spinach, onions, and carrots – no brussels sprouts; definitely no brussels sprouts. An early successful reward will give children the confidence to not only persevere, but to try their hand at more challenging projects.

There are so many small, quick, and easy ideas. Plant butter beans in the soil as well as a few under cotton wool and as the seeds germinate, show your child what is happening under-ground with the root emerging first and then the first green leaves. Sunflowers and Mielies are always fun to plant and as the stems grow taller monitor this growth against the height of your kids. Vegetables are a must, the idea then being that we are enjoying a salad courtesy of Billy with the beautiful flowers from Violet’s Garden making up the diner table’s center piece.

Grow bulbs in a bowl filled with colourful gravel or marbles. Remove the tops from pineapples, carrots, or parsnips together with a slice of the fruit and skin. Place this onto a loose compost mix. Keep moist and in a warm place. A new plant will grow out in six to eight weeks. An avocado pip supported over a glass of water with three toothpicks (the bottom of the pip just touching the water) will grow roots in five to six weeks with the leaves emerging soon thereafter.

Miniature gardens are fun to design in low, flat trays. Use small plants, moss and ferns. A small piece of mirror can be used to represent a pond with small pebbles for rocks. Make a beetle trap to hang in the fruit trees. A jar or tin filled with very sweet water and a red food dye will attract the beetles and fruit fly away from your fruit.

Collect, dry and crush eggshells to scatter around those plants most favoured by snails. The sharp edges of the eggshells will prevent these pests from getting near your plants. Make a scarecrow, theme the garden, collect and press flowers and make herbal teas and scented sachets.

Not only will the children be having fun but the potential for learning is immeasurable. Digging, planting, watering, fertilizing and upkeep of the plants; safety issues with tools and fertilizers; counting and measuring skills with seed spacing and walkways; reading skills with planting instructions; all in the garden classroom.

Be creative, let the learning be hands on, be there to help and invite all questions. Fill those young minds with a love and appreciation of all things green and enjoy the family time together.

Happy Gardening!