As summer starts to fade and thoughts turn to the beginning of a new school year, don’t forget about your garden: it’s time to start planning ahead with your children for the autumn and even Christmas!
Here are some top gardening activities to encourage your children outside:
1. Continue to Sow, Water and Grow
Children do not have to stop sowing seeds just because you have harvested earlier sown crops. You can continue to sow easy to grow seeds that have a short growth cycle in order to achieve a succession of harvests. Radish, rocket and lettuces are all good choices for outdoors as they are quick to germinate so hold children’s interest. Do not forget to keep watering and feeding those crops already planted so that your children get a bumper harvest for all their earlier hard work.
2. Plant Winter Veg
If your children have not sown any winter veg crops yet you can buy plants from your local garden centre and plant them in your veg plot. Checking on their crops is a great way to encourage them out to the garden even in the dark days of winter. Suitably delicious winter crops include cabbage, calabrese, broccoli and pak choi.
3. Plant Potatoes for your Christmas Dinner
We hate to mention the ‘C’ word but in August it’s not too late to get your children to plant seed potatoes for your Christmas dinner even if they have not yet harvested the potatoes which they planted in the springtime. Seed potatoes planted now in late summer, can take up to 6 months to grow and develop as the days start to shorten. Children can plant them in the same way as they did in spring (which is a good way to see if they remembered how to do it), either in the ground or containers. Potatoes need to be earthed up as the plants grow and protected from early frosts by bringing containers into a shelter spot or by covering the plants if they are in the ground.
4. Planning for Spring
Spring bulb catalogues are out now so it’s time to start thinking about spring 2021! Bulbs are easy for little hands to plant in containers or borders and an afternoon spent looking through some flower catalogues with your children will allow them to think about colour, height, form and flowering times so they can have a real say in the garden, or their corner of it!
Joanne Evans, of Aberdeenshire-based gardening school, Gardening4Kids, knows all about encouraging children outdoors. Joanne advises that even if your garden has reached its summer peak with flowers and veg and fruit cropping, it’s time to start thinking ahead for the autumn and winter.