Smashing Pumpkin!

Well we know – it’s nearly autumn and we’re just putting up a post on getting kids into gardening. Still – it’s the season of plenty now with harvesting of various goodies intensifying along with the bright September sun. Midas tiptoes through the garden – pumpkins are a lush golden colour, the companion planted marigolds have splayed their varied yellows, golds and reds between the rows of veg and even our pile of drying oak logs have taken on the appearance of honeycomb!

                  

Growing veg keeps our mind and spirit close to what’s real in this crazy world we inhabit. We all need to earn money, but in the words of Fritjof Capra, growing food is ‘real work’, the type of activity that genuinely feeds your body and soul; (ref ‘The Turning Point‘ – a great read and still retains some resonance for our times despite being written a couple of decades ago).

But I digress – what can kids learn from helping us plant seed, watch things grow and eating the produce?

Kids engage with life when it fires their imagination, so how to harness that in the context of growing veg! It’s not hard – here’s an example.

We love climbing French beans – so to get the kids involved we nicked an idea from a great storybook called: Eddie’s Garden and How to Make Things Grow by Sarah Garland. This book includes story as well as useful, basic tips for growing food that kids can follow. One good example – grow a bean den:

Erect a load of long hazel sticks or bamboo into a teepee shape (don’t forget to leave a door) and grow the beans up it (make sure you plant a climbing variety. In time it’ll become a green wigwam that the kids can sit in. They love it and they’ll probably help put it together and take an interest in the veg growing that they might otherwise have ignored. The image on the left shows ours growing – a little bit sparser than we’d like this year as April and May were so dry…but you get the idea.

(Another excellent read with great pictures is And The Good Brown Earth by Kathy Henderson). Either of these two links take you to Amazon and you’ll see a load of other great books for this type of outdoor learning.

Kids love to plant tatties and bulbs and plants even look pretty funky in deep winter snow:

                                  

For several years running, we’ve also used seed trays to create mini gardens that the girls have then planted up and played with, using various fairies and gnomes that we’ve collected over the years. They can create a fantasy garden, develop stories and learn how to keep things growing:

Below you can see the gnomes gather in some produce from the garden and the fairies holding their Seelie Court amongst the violets in the fairy garden…

              

These are tending towards the more girlie, but what about dinosaurs for the boys? Or all those animal figures, from farm or zoo sets? Try Ebay for gnome and fairy figures – a quick search recently turned up some vintage David the Gnome figures for 99p each + P&P – We reckon that a great dinosaur or gnome or fairy garden can be made with a visit to your local garden center to spend a fiver on plants, or even cheaper, grow some from seed in the spring with a view to creating a ‘wild’ garden for those ferocious beasts to roam in. Some big stones and sand maybe? They’d make a desert type environment. Get your green fingers on and those creative juices flowing. Our girls made paths and ponds out of little stones they found on our driveway and in the flower bed. Ponds were created out of ramekins sunk into the soil. Chuck some cut and come again lettuce in the soil or even a French blend mix and the wee garden can even be harvested by the little hands while they play!

If anyone has other ideas like these please let us know…

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