Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Easter Egg Grass Heads

We have been growing indoors for the last couple of weeks and have produced the grass heads shown above. They have been great fun and are an easy introduction to children’s gardening.

The recipe is as follows:-

1 pot – ours was a paper pot from Sainsbury’s gardening section.
1 empty egg shell – cracked carefully and as close to the top as possible.
Grass seed.
Potting compost.
Craft eyes from the local art shop.
Red sticky back felt.

The pot and eggshell were decorated first and then filled with compost. The grass seeds were added on top of the soil and the soil kept wet. They then lived on the kitchen window sill and were lovingly watered and handled everyday. Not too much though as otherwise the pot went soggy and the eggshell easily overflowed. The grass seeds took about 10 days to germinate and about another 2 weeks before they needed a trim.

You can, of course use cress or chives which have the advantage of being edible. We are going to keep these going for as long as possible. There was great delight today when they had a haircut. It made we wonder whether I had a budding gardener or hairdresser on my hands, but I suppose it is all about life skills.

Our shop has some great gifts that will help inspire you and your children to get growing in the garden. 

Friday, 26 March 2010

Eco Friendly Pots

Recently I have seen snippets of information on the web about coir pots. Last week I spotted some for sale at my local garden centre. RHS Wisley is also selling herbs grown in them. So I thought I’d give them a try.

I think they are great and what’s more so does my five year old who played for a good hour with the pots you see in the photo and of course the box they came in. It got me thinking that as well as using them to replace plastic pots there are all sorts of other uses. From containers within the house, garden shed and greenhouse to covering those plastic pots and flower boxes if you already have them and don’t want to replant. They are just so much more pleasing to the eye than plastic.

They are 100% natural and it shows. At present the outside is quite smooth but they do moult a little. The ones I saw at Wisley were very hairy, but of course you just plant them in the ground and they naturally decompose. That means they have great potential for children’s gardening as you can grow one of 2 seeds per pot and then plant in the garden without your kids having the fiddle of transplanting the seedlings. Out of the ground the small pots last for about 12 months and the trough for 2/3 years.

The pots come from Sri Lanka which is a country very close to my heart. We were out there at Christmas and saw the coconut husks being collected. Any purchase of goods from there may just help the economy to pick itself up now that peace has arrived. There is loads of information here and whilst more expensive than the plastic version they will not break the bank. I’d be really interested to know what other people think about them.


Thursday, 18 March 2010

RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2010

I have been wondering whether to go to the Chelsea Flower show this year. There is usually something about children's gardening.

It looks as if the Children's Society will be hosting another garden this year, one for the modern family. Designer Mark Gregory has taken his inspiration from the Society's Well-being report. This found from a survey of nearly 7,000 10 – 15 year olds that what made children most happy were their family, friends and having freedom of choice. The garden reflects this need with a covered lounge seating area where families can unwind and relax around a safely designed fire pit or so the RHS press release says. Sounds a bit like a garden for outside couch potatoes. No information about planting, foliage etc so hopefully there will be more to the garden than this.

There is also a press release on the RHS site for Chelsea about dinner party allotments. This features the idea of growing your own ingredients for specific recipes rather than growing large quantities of veg.

Jet Cooke the founder explains
“I wanted to develop an adult Dinner Party Allotment package for people like me, who like to invite friends around to enjoy the occasional special meal using home grown produce, as well as a children’s package with recipes designed to make the most ardent non vegetable eaters give vegetables a go.”

I don't know whether to be intrigued or saddened about this approach to grow your own. I suppose it gives you something other than house prices to talk about at your dinner party. If I do get to Chelsea watch this space because I shall be finding out more about the dinner party allotment.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Seeds, Seeds and more Seeds

I have had a real seedy week this week. I suppose it is that time of year. All of the gardening magazines are offering free seeds so I succumbed. I now have organic chive seeds to grow which is great as I shall let some go flower and eat the rest. The other packet was for Chinese Lanterns which I have been wanting to grow for a while. I love the orange bell-like structures and they provide good colour in the garden at the end of the summer. However I shall have to wait a while as the seeds are for a hardy perennial and flower a year after sowing. Next time I'll read the back of the packet before I buy a magazine.

Saturday was Seedy Saturday where I live and kidsinthegarden had a stall at the event. Such a good idea to exchange seeds and meet fellow gardeners. There are a few more listed on this site if you are interested.

If anyone is after free seeds the BBC are giving them away through their Digin initiative. The same as last year apparently, but I missed that. The site has a lot of useful information and the seed offer for carrots, french beans, basil, carrots, and courgette seeds are all fine to grow with children. However at the time of posting the offer only works if you click the link from the CBeebies website

Good growing


Thursday, 4 March 2010

Children's Gardening: Ready, Steady, Grow

It is World Book Day today so I thought I would review my most recent gardening book - The Royal Horticultural Society's Ready, Steady, Grow - Quick and Easy Gardening Projects. There were no reviews on Amazon when I ordered it so I was not quite sure what to expect. It is 80 pages in typical Dorling Kindersley style - easy to read, plenty of photos and clear layout. It doesn't state an age range. I would suggest for children using the book on their own from about age 7.

I was slightly disappointed when I first glanced through it, but it has appropriately, grown on me. It covers a number of plant-related projects and the growing of flowers, veggies, herbs and fruit. I liked the way it clearly states how long each of the activities will take to come to fruition, so avoiding raised expectations.

There are some great ideas in the book. Sunflower people grown in tin cans with a painted body on and a face etched out in the sunflower would put a smile on any child's face. There are two projects on sprouting seeds, an area often overlooked by children's gardening books. Yet these seeds are simple, easy and fast to grow; a great beginners activity or one for the little ones. I also loved the idea of growing watercress, especially from cuttings taken from a bag of supermarket watercress. Most gardeners grow from cuttings and it is a great skill for children to learn. I shall certainly be trying this one out with my son.

I wasn't quite so keen on the enchanted path project detailing how to make cement stepping stones in a leaf shape. It also would have been useful to see the book cover relevant web links and where to source some of the plants and materials mentioned. There are other books on the market covering this topic, but if you don't have one on your bookshelf and what to encourage your budding gardeners then this is the right time of year to buy this book and get growing.
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