Five must do Winter garden activities with kids
As the temperature drops and once vibrant shrubs and perennials bunker down for the winter, your garden might seem like the last place you want to spend your time. But a little bit of love can go a long way, and your garden will thank you for it come summer. Don’t make excuses – get out of the house, soak up some winter sunshine and enjoy these garden activities with kids while you can!
1. The backyard kitchen
One of the blessings of a warm climate is that it’s possible to grow a wide range of veggies during the winter. Due to the colder temperature, you might be pushing your luck if you sow directly into the ground, but seedlings should have no problems taking and will still be available at any good nursery. Look for leafy greens such as lettuce, silverbeet and English spinach, as well as the low maintenance favorites like zucchini and pumpkin.
Garden activity with kids: If you’re buying veggie seedlings from the nursery, be sure to take your kids with you so that they can choose a few for themselves. Show your kids how to plant them and then let them take charge. For older kids, the responsibility of looking after their own veggie patch (watering and weeding) can be good fun and very rewarding.
2. Weed ‘em and reap
Now is the perfect time to weed the garden. Not only is it cooler, but with all of the summer growth dying back you’ll have enough room to move and not have to worry about knocking delicate flowers around. Weeds are easier to pull from damp soil, so do it after a big rainfall. A stitch (or weed) in time saves nine, so do it now before they spread!
Garden activity with kids: Give kids a small patch about 1 meter square to focus on. This way, they will soon see the fruits of their labour and feel a sense of accomplishment. Weed your own patch nearby, and use the time to chat, tell stories or invent songs with your kids. You never now, it could even develop into a nice little weekend or after school ritual.
3. Flower power
Bring a little colour to your winter garden with some easy-to-grow flowers such as violas, pansies, alyssum, dianthus and salvias. Young plants are great for instant wow-factor, but these flowers are also easy to grow from seed, which can be conveniently ordered online. If growing from seed, start them off indoors until they reach the seedling stage, then plant out and water well.
Garden activity with kids: If you’re starting from seed, have your kids prepare the seedling trays with potting mix (you can buy cheap seedling trays from the nursery or just use ice cube trays). Follow the instructions on the packet for sowing the seed, using an eye-dropper or the crease in a piece of folded paper if the seeds are very small. When planting out into the garden, your kids can help you prepare the bed and dig the little holes for each seedling to go in.
4. Replenish, restore and revive
As plants flourish over spring and summer, they use up a lot of the nutrients in the soil. Winter is the ideal time to prepare the soil and replenish lost nutrients, giving your plants the best possible start next season. Dig in compost or well-rotted manure to restore the balance, and protect the soil by adding a little mulch on top.
Garden activity with kids: If you’re kids are big enough to handle gardening tools, then encourage them to give it a go. Otherwise, the littlies can be on the look out for any earthworms that get turned up during the digging. Set earthworms aside in a little worm infirmary for observation (ie, a plastic bucket with some earth in it) before helping your child to redistribute them around the garden when you’re done with the digging.
5. On the move
Now is the time to transplant shrubs, as the winter period is less demanding and the shock of being moved is far less. Prepare the soil in the new area well by digging in plenty of compost and be sure to water in the shrub once it’s in his new spot.
Garden activity with kids: Kids can get involved by throwing in the soil while you hold the transplanted shrub in place, and by helping to press the soil in when it reaches ground level. The job of watering in can also go to the kids – a hose or watering can will do the job nicely.
Get more great inspiration for your winter gardening activities with kids by visiting the following sites: