As the leaves start to change colour and we prepare for the clocks to go back, it’s time to enjoy the autumn. There is no better time to get your children or grandchildren out into the woods to see the autumn colours. The weather is not always so great but there are still plenty of things to do so wrap the kids up warmly and get outdoors!
If you are lucky enough to have a wood, forest or park nearby you can get your children out to collect leaves and make something fun and colourful. Leaf crowns or bracelets are simple to make. For crowns simply cut out a long piece of card and measure your child’s head for a perfect fit. They can then glue any collected leaves to the card and tape the ends to make a crown. For the bracelet you simply need some masking tape which you put around your child’s wrist sticky side up. Kids can then pick up leaves on their travels and stick them onto the bracelet for any instant effect.
Leaf mandalas are also beautiful to create outdoors. Mandalas are a form of land art. The world mandala means circle in Sanskrit and they often have a spiritual significance. Put simply they are a decorative circle – big or small – using whatever materials are naturally available. You can collect berries, leaves and cones together to make your mandala and place them on the ground to make a pattern. Don’t forget to take a picture when you have finished!
Planting onions and shallots
In the garden it is time to be planting onion and shallot sets. Sets are baby onions or shallots which have been grown on from seed. Growing from sets is generally easier and will crop earlier than seed. They are also easy for little hands to plant and they can plant them directly into your veg patch. Plant onions 5-10cm apart and shallots 15-20cm. They like a sunny position with well-drained soil. They will be ready to harvest in early summer next year.
Look around your garden or veg patch with your children and start saving seeds for next year. Try saving sunflower or pumpkin seeds as they are easy to dry and are both very tasty. Plants like sweet peas and lupins also have seed pods like peas for children to discover. Dry these to save or sow them into pots of compost. You could even have your children make and decorate their own seed packets and give them as presents to your friends!
Lasagne bulb planting
It’s easy to help your children plant bulbs in layers in a pot starting with the largest bulb at the bottom, usually tulips. Help them cover each bulb layer with compost until they get to the top. They can then plant winter bedding plants on the top so that there is something attractive to look at until the bulbs come through. Tulips, daffodils and snowdrops or crocus for the top layers work well. There will be colour from autumn through to next spring. Get planting!
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.