Hannah Stephenson consults former Blue Peter gardener Chris Collins on how to grow youngsters’ interest in gardening
GARDENING can be fun if youngsters are given the right tools for the job. Former Blue Peter gardener Chris Collin has helped us select some basic pieces of equipment to enable children to plant and grow seeds, care for them and to encourage them to spend time in the garden.
Chris is head of organic horticulture at Garden Organic (gardenorganic.org.uk), a charity for organic gardening.
Tamper and sieve
Children will love using a tamper to stamp on the soil to firm it and enjoy getting their hands dirty sieving the soil to produce a light crumbly mix, according to Chris.
These items will get them directly involved in preparing the soil and help improve seed sowing success and avoid any disappointments.
Good seeds to sow for little hands include sunflower, runner beans and sweet peas.
Serious young gardeners will be able to prepare beds for sowing, transplant seedlings and remove weeds with a good set of hand tools.
Very young children will just enjoy a bit of digging and exploring the soil to look for worms and insects, which is always a cause for great excitement.
For younger children, colourful garden tools are widely available.
Playing with water — especially in hot summer weather — should encourage children into the garden, so a watering can is a must-have.
Buy one with a rose to allow for gentle watering so they can get involved with regularly caring for their plants and make sure that the watering can is the right size and holds the right amount of water for the size of your child, so he or she can easily lift it.
Among the best is the Little Pals Children’s Watering Can Kit which includes a metal watering can, pink hand trowel and spotty gardening gloves (Amazon www.amazon.co.uk)
If you have a compost bin, you can help teach them the importance of recycling kitchen scraps and garden waste. Why not get one they can decorate too, making a lovely fun feature in the garden? They can then use the compost to help their plants to grow.
Just letting your child fill up your regular bird-feeder should engage them, especially when they see birds feasting on the seeds and nuts they have given them.
There are plenty of kits on the market to make your own bird feeder or birdhouse, or alternatively you can recycle old bits and pieces from your home to give them a fun activity of creating a habitat for wildlife, which will help them feel more connected to the garden and make them aware of the many creatures which use your open space.
Alternatively, invest in a good one for your child such as the Yukon Feeder (£24.99, CJ Wildlife, birdfood.co.uk) which enables three different types of bird food to be placed into different slots, to attract a variety of birds.
The oldest clothes are probably the most sensible ones for kids to wear when gardening but if they are going to get their hands dirty, it may be wise to invest in a pair of junior gardening gloves in their preferred colour.
A good bet could be the Vgo gardening and DIY gloves for four to five-year-olds.
And don’t forget, most importantly, to get your child to wear a hat on sunny days.