Children's gardens

Children's gardens


What have we been harvesting out of our garden this week?

Well, the thing we have been picking the most often recently has been radishes. There's a very good reason for that. Back in early Spring, my 9-year-old solemnly asked whether he could have his own garden this year. We absolutely jumped at the chance to get him into gardening!

Both of my grandfathers were gardeners. One of them gardened for a living, and the other always had an immaculate vege garden at home. I can remember visiting my grandparents in Christchurch and seeing wonderfully neat rows of veges, and my grandfather's shed was always absolutely neat and tidy, with not a thing out of place. It had a certain smell - a nice, earthy smell.

Just an aside: Now that I work at Kings Seeds, I think that wonderful smell I remember was also the smell of seeds - that's one of the things that attracted me to working at Kings Seeds. If you ever visit us, ask if you can lift the lid of the Dill bin.....the smell is wonderful and would lift anyone's spirits. Tell them you read it on this blog and I'm sure someone will let you do it! (Tip: Don't ask to smell the parsnip seed!!)


My other grandfather had a beautiful flower garden at home. When I was a little girl he showed me how to pick the little flower heads off the snapdragons (antirrhinums) and make them "talk" by squeezing the back of the flower.

By the time that I became interested in gardening, neither of my grandfathers were around to learn from. It's such a shame that their gardening knowledge didn't make it down through the generations - I'm sure they would have had plenty to teach me - instead I have had to learn a lot of the lessons by trial and error (and error).

Anyway, the reason I have got talking about this is that now we have the opportunity to pass on what little we know to our own children. Of course our daughter also wanted a garden like her brother. She wanted to grow flowers. Our son wanted to grow "things I can eat and things that grow fast" (hence the radishes - he sowed an entire packet all at once!) We spent a day digging up part of the front lawn for them. Last time they wanted a garden they were only 6 and 4. That time, their interest in gardening lasted only as long as it took for them to make a wooden sign saying "kids garden" and that was the end of it. That garden therefore became my salad garden (they are not having it back).


We wanted them to learn how to grow things from seed, but we also wanted them to be encouraged by some quick results, so they chose some seeds and we also visited the garden centre. We came home with punnets of flower seedlings for our daughter, and lettuce, cabbage and celery seedlings for our son. Into the garden they went.


We thought that radishes would be a good option for "things that grow fast". I'm not actually sure if my son thinks that radishes should also be included in the "things I can eat" category. Although he is awfully proud of his giant radishes, he hasn't been spotted eating any so far! I put some on his salad every night and keep hoping!

Now our daughter already has her own little flowers blooming. Together we planted a handful of hollyhock seeds that my Dad gave me last year from his own garden, and we're looking forward to them flowering. Unfortunately, the snails seem to have eaten most of the stock seedlings.

It was lovely to see that the snapdragon flowers still make great little talking bunnies and that 8-year-olds still think they're great!

lady bug

It's nice to think that this might be the start of something for the children. We're hoping to do everything we can to encourage them to stay interested. This weekend our son will be planting out his tomato seedlings - he selected the variety (a cherry tomato called Lady Bug) and sowed the seeds and now his tomato plants are ready to go plant out!

If we're keen to get the next generation gardening, there are plenty of ideas out there to encourage the children into the garden - but more than anything I think the key to sparking their interest is probably just being happy to spend lots of time with them in the garden - making a scarecrow, growing giant or miniature vegetables, growing sunflowers, making a mess, getting dirty, picking food for the table..... just get them out there! And be prepared to do most of the weeding yourself!

All the photos in this blog post were taken today in the children's gardens.

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