Sunday 25 September 2016

5 family garden activities for you and your 'Little Gro-ers'

The garden is not only ideal for kids to get exercise, an education and healthy eating habits, but it is also the perfect place to grow family memories

Published 22/04/2015 | 02:30

It's estimated that one in 50 children in Ireland are morbidly obese, so when studies show that kids who grow their own food are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables, what better reason do you need to get them into the garden? Studies also show that kids involved in gardening have more positive bonding experiences with their parents and other adults.

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Below are five great activities to get your kids into the garden.

1 RECYCLING FUN

We're all told to reduce, reuse, recycle, and the garden is the best place to start these green-habits. There are also some great ways to make it fun! Below is a guide to using the cardboard from loo-rolls to make planters.

You'll need seeds, preferably runner beans or tomatoes, compost, the cardboard inside of toilet rolls and a plastic tray.

Toilet roll tubes are great because they provide more depth for roots as well as being biodegradable. Fill the cardboard tubes half full of compost. Compact the soil down to form the base. Then place the seeds in the soil. Next cover the seeds in more soil. Beans usually need to be an inch under the soil, whereas tomato seeds only require just a small dusting of soil.

Finally, water your tubes sparingly while on the plastic tray and leave on a sunny windowsill. In no time you'll see sprouts! The great thing about this growing method is you can do it even with limited or no garden space.

2 YOUR OWN MINI GREENHOUSE

To make a mini terrarium for small plants, use a mason jar. Terrariums and greenhouses keep in the heat, so even with the unpredictable Irish weather you can grow plants that need a little more warmth.

Make sure to choose the right jar for the right sized plant. Fill the jar about half way up with soil and seeds, leaving room for growth. The seeds of herbs like coriander and small shrubs work well in these jars.

Simply water it and and leave it in the sun. You will have a tiny greenhouse that will look great on any windowsill or lining your garden!

3 GET CREATIVE

A great way to make decorative markers for seeds you have planted is to use painted rocks. The rocks can also be simply used as decorations for flower beds.

Here's our step-by-step guide.

1. Gather some smooth stones in either your garden or at a trip to the beach.

2. Lay down some old newspapers or cardboard outside so you don't get paint on the grass or patio.

3. Get creative and decorate your stones in any design your little one's imaginations can conjure.

4. Paint on some clear varnish to make sure that the colours last.

You could also paint some pots which the kids can then use to grow their own seeds, and paint a ceramic pot and fill with water to use as a bird bath. Also, if you have a water butt, compost bin or bland shed why not let the kids spruce it up? Use paint to give your tired old garden for a fresh summer look.

4 A TREE FOR THE FUTURE

When your kids are old enough, plant a small tree in the garden and tend to it each year. As your child grows your tree will grow with them. There are trees suitable for all sizes of garden, and even for container growing - check with your local GroMór expert on the best tree for your space.

Firstly, dig a hole that is slightly wider than it is deep. Loosen the roots of your young tree and place it in the hole. A vital part of the process is the stake. Make sure you hammer it firmly into the ground, without rubbing too much off the trunk of your tree.

Then fill the hole back up and layer some compost or mulch on top. Finally, about one third of the way up the tree, tie it to the stake, and it will grow into a healthy tree.

5 MOST IMPORTANTLY, GET MESSY!

What child doesn't want an excuse to dig in the dirt?

Kids can have fun looking for worms and bugs, while also helping to break up soil to plant seeds. By breaking up the soil, your children will have a messy old time while also helping water to get into the roots. Studies show that kids who are actively engaged in garden projects also tend to enjoy learning more. They show improved attitudes towards education, as well as alleviating attention deficit disorders, which is a growing problem for young people in Ireland.

Irish Independent

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