Gardening: Let children get their hands dirty

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There’s plenty to keep kids occupied in the garden, especially during the summer holidays when the weather’s supposed to be at its best — even if that hasn’t quite been the case this year.

Susan Adam, Little Seedlings Club leader at Dobbies Garden World Edinburgh, says there is plenty that youngsters can learn in their gardens.

She says: “Encourage kids to keep a note of their summer gardening — it’s good to track how quickly things grow.”

One idea, is to create a miniature garden in a seed tray using items foraged from your back yard. Start by adding a layer of soil to the bottom of the tray, creating dips and mounds to add interest. Create trees by adding prunings from bushes, and a pond by burying a small plastic container in the soil and filling it with water. Sow a seed of your choice in the bare soil and watch it grow over the holidays. Replace the “pruned trees” when they look past their best.

Secondly, why not open a salad bar by growing ready-to-eat salad leaves in a pot, reaping a harvest in just a couple of weeks after sowing seed. Fill your pot with compost and water it thoroughly. When the compost has settled, sprinkle a mix of salad seed over the surface. Cover the seeds with a fine layer of compost and wait for them to grow.

If your children like creepy crawlies, try building an insect hideout. Start by making a pile of old logs and wood, and then push short pieces of bamboo cane into any gaps. Make a separate pile of stone or rock nearby.

It’s never too early to start thinking about Christmas, so plant prepared spring-flowering bulbs to give as gifts — hyacinths are ideal. Fill a pot with compost and add several bulbs, so the tops are just visible above the surface. Water them well and put them in a dark, frost-free place. Keep an eye on the bulbs, make sure the compost stays moist and bring them indoors when they shoot.

n Dobbies Garden World Edinburgh runs the Little Seedlings Club – a free club for children aged four to ten years, where budding green-fingered children can take part in monthly hands-on workshops. To find out more, or to book a place, please contact 0131-663 1941.