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It’s Child’s Play

Children love to watch things grow and get enormous enjoyment – and satisfaction – from growing lovely flowers and food. This month we’re taking a look at some plants that they’ll find easy to grow, starting from seed.

Choosing seed If this is a child’s first experience of gardening, you might want to consider seeds that will germinate easily and quickly. For example, microgreens can be grown indoors, germinating and ready to eat within only days from sowing. Salad leaves such as lettuce can be sown indoors at this time of year and finished outdoors once the weather is warmer. After the frosts are gone, they can be grown from seed outdoors, either in pots or beds. Since lettuce can be ready to eat within as little as six weeks from sowing, it’s a good idea to sow a few seeds every week or two to ensure a continuous supply of salad throughout summer. For more experienced young gardeners, round carrots are a relatively quick crop that grow well in pots. Varieties like ‘Paris Market’ produce tasty snacks that can be harvested 12-16 weeks from sowing. A slightly longer crop but nevertheless very popular is the pumpkin – sow the seeds now and they’ll be a fine size for carving lanterns and making pumpkin pie in the autumn. Once they begin to fill out, they are fascinating to watch as they grow almost visibly from day to day! The choice of flower seeds is too extensive to list here, so we’ve highlighted three of the easiest and most rewarding to consider: Nasturtiums are possibly the most popular amongst flower seeds for young gardeners. These large seeds are easy for children to handle, can be germinated indoors during early spring and planted outdoors in pots or borders when the risk of frost is gone. Flowering from June right through to October, the flowers and leaves can be used in salads. By removing dead heads, repeat flowering is encouraged. They produce seed very easily and it’s entirely possible that you might find nasturtiums unexpectedly popping up again next year! The ever-popular poppy is another favourite, and our recommendation here are the ‘Little Ladybird’ poppies – with their black spotted centres on bright red flowers you can almost imagine that they are a family of ladybirds! When thinking about flowers that can be easily grown from seed, it’s impossible to ignore sweet peas. Try creating your very own sweet pea tepee with a few bamboos and some twine. Plant the sweet peas around the base of the tepee (leaving a gap for the doorway of course!) then train the plants up and around as they grow to create a tent with living walls. With endless fragrant flowers and a tepee to play in, it’s sure to be a winner for all the family!

Plots or pots? For many of today’s gardeners, their own plot in the garden is where their love of gardening first began. Whilst not every garden has the space to have a dedicated kid’s area there’s often room to let children grow things in containers. Why not set them the challenge of finding the most unusual /colourful/ imaginative container and see what they come up with? Old toys, kitchen containers or even old shoes and boots can be fun containers to grow plants in and could be decorated to produce wonderfully individual planters. Just make sure that they’re clean before you begin, that they have sufficient drainage so that the plants don’t become waterlogged and that they will remain intact when watered.

Just have a go! If you don’t have a garden, perhaps you could let them experiment with houseplants or a window box? With so much evidence about the benefits to our well-being of gardening, introducing children to this wonderful pastime is certainly worth considering. You may be launching a future horticulturalist or simply helping them learn how gardening can help them remain healthy and well but it’s certainly worth having a go!!

Help & advice Although we are currently closed due to government guidance, our plant team are here in the garden centre caring for the plants and can be contacted by email info@merryhatton.co.uk

or telephone (01620 880278) for help and advice. You’ll also find lots of information and can purchase your seeds on our website at www.merryhatton.co.uk

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