January is an important time in the garden for getting things planned and prepared and it’s a wonderful opportunity for the kids to get involved and will give them some understanding of the activity that goes into the garden before Spring arrives. In the garden during January the ground is cold and hard, the pond and puddles iced over and the chill in the air seems to blow straight through you. The garden may seem quiet and bare now but before long, with a little planning, it will be full of growth and they kids won’t want to come back indoors.
Planning a garden with kids:
We begin by drawing our garden with our kids, although in truth our toddler prefers to do his own thing. A basic outline of the entire growing area is needed to start. Then we just float ideas past our daughter and see if she likes them. This year she wants to grow “lots of veg for Mummy”. Once the general plan is made it’s time to look into specifics. A zoomed in plan of our vegetable growing area was needed for us. We showed our daughter some pictures of the plants and we talked about what to grow and then she decided what was going to grow where. Be sure to mark the year on your plan.
Choosing seeds and plants to grow with children:
Our daughter loves choosing the seeds and plants and it really makes her feel involved in the garden. We look through seed catalogues and search the web for cultivars of plants that would grow best in our area. Then we present the final selection to the children for them to decide. Our daughter, for example, chose the Sparkler radish because she thought it was the prettiest radish. She was also adamant we should grow a pink skinned garlic and purple sprouting for similar reasons. With seed and plants chosen it’s time to order and take a visit to the local garden centre for pots and compost, which is a nice day out for the children too.
Keeping a garden journal:
Now you have a plan drawn out and your seed and plants selected it’s a good idea to keep a garden journal. When you work in the garden write down the date, the weather and what you got done. Our daughter likes to draw a small picture of what the weather was like. This allows you to keep track of the cultivars you planted, when you fertilised and how much, how long until you harvested, how heavy any harvest was, what was attacked by pest or disease, what grew well and what didn’t. Combined with the garden plan you also know what plants to rotate. You ideally don’t want to grow the same type of plants in the same area year on year because it leads to fertility, pest and disease problems.
Starting seeds indoors
To give some of our plants a chance to get ahead of the growing season we start some plants on a sunny windowsill. This is a nice way for children to see the young developing plants and how they grow. With plants started from seed I like to show our daughter how the seedling has cotyledon (embryonic leaves) but produces true leaves later on. If you’re planning on planting potatoes, leaving seed potatoes in an egg carton on the windowsill to chit gives kids the opportunity to decorate them like a potato head with goggle eyes, pipe cleaner arms and a felt tip moustache.
We hope you enjoy the winter garden planning and we would love to hear of any plans you have for gardening with the kids. Please join us on social media.