School holiday gardening projects kids will love – Herald Sun

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From playing in the garden to making mud pies, parents are striving to lure kids outside these school holidays.From playing in the garden and searching for critters to making mud pies, parents are striving to lure kids outside these school holidays to seek fresh air and grow their own produce. For celebrity landscape designer Charlie Albone, there are no better memories than those created in a garden.“Growing vegetables in winter is a great way to get the children involved. It’s the key to a long-term relationship, so now is the best time to give it a go,” he says. “My youngest son Hartford potters around in his own little vegetable patch. It’s great for him physically and mentally and he has really taken ownership of it.”A home garden is the best sensory playground – one that technology can neither replace nor replicate. There’s also the reward of seeing children grow their own food as statewide lockdowns return.Gardening can teach kids about nature, patience and sensitivity, and it’s an ideal way to learn about fresh, healthy food and nutrition. Research by Bunnings shows 93 per cent of children would like to grow their own edible garden, while 82 per cent of Australians are looking to spend more or the same on gardening products this season compared to last winter. Gardening products including weeding tools, outdoor lighting and pots and plants like roses, cactuses and orchids and edible seeds have all seen a recent increase in popularity.“Gardening is a great way to get some exercise, especially in winter when it is all too easy to sit in front of the TV,” Bunnings horticulturalist Katy Schreuder says.Most children are fascinated with growing plants, particularly from seed. So start this weekend and the bed will be ready for spring planting. Here, Albone offers his tips to inspire families to find cool comfort in their own backyards.GET THEIR HANDS DIRTYLet children get their hands in the soil and mud while teaching them about healthy eating. Seeds cost as little as $5. And Albone says there are loads of vegetables to plant in winter. “Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and brussels sprouts all look amazing in the garden,” he says.Encouraging the kids to look after the vegetable patch is a nice way to introduce them to plants and may even get them to try new vegetables that they have grown themselves. The patch should be in a sunny and elevated spot with soil that is not too firm or sandy. Make sure you hydrate the plants in the morning. Invest in well-chosen items such as clippers, gloves and fertiliser and gardening will be far more rewarding.“The winter vegetable grow bag from Richgro is a great way to grow your winter vegetables and get children involved in the space,” Albone says.“As winter vegetable plants tend to take longer to mature (due to the lower light levels), try to create a mud kitchen in the garden. Who doesn’t love to make mud pies?”Plant Life Balance ambassadors and horticulturalists Dominic Hooghuis and Duncan Hilder from The Plant Runner say winter is a great time for pruning plants and trees such as roses, crepe myrtles and hydrangeas.“We also like to feed and fertilise our gardens as this gives the fertiliser a chance to get down to the root zone so the plant can access its food as soon as spring kicks in.”MAKE IT A GAMEThere are many fun projects to inspire your kids to get digging, planting and growing. For example, activity stations which consist of a trowel and pot can keep children engaged. “Making a scarecrow from things lying around the house is also a great way to get them involved, as well as using chalkboard paint to label pots and seedlings,” Albone says. Plant a pizza patch with tomatoes, onions, capsicum, basil and oregano as most kids love making and eating pizzas. Egg cartons can be filled with potting mix and sown with herbs such as mint and parsley.Create a miniature fairy garden with some pebbles, fairy figurines and a house. Or make a terrarium using an old recycled jar, small plants and potting mix.Most gardening retailers sell worm farm kits or you could try making your own with a styrofoam box, shredded paper and compost. It’s great way to recycle food scraps. “There are no limits in the garden for children. My boys love collecting sticks and making dens and little girls love creating fairy gardens – it’s a great way to let their imaginations run wild,” Albone says.WINTER GARDEN TIPSHipages’ top tips from Steve Shea of Steve Shea Landscape Design and Construction– In winter, most plants require less water as the weather is much cooler and water retention is therefore higher. Installing an adjustable water system like rain sensors are great, as they work on a timer helping to reduce water wastage. You can also connect smart controllers such as Rachio, as it adjusts the rain sensor based on the local weather.– Plant bare-root fruit trees and shrubs as they can take advantage of the winter water and have time to acclimate to their new environment without the stresses of the summer sun.– Winter is the best time to plant your favourite vegetables such as radishes, onion, leek, cauliflower, carrots, beans and cabbage which will produce a late winter or early spring harvest.– Take advantage of soil moisture by putting your fallen leaves to good use and mulching them around plants to assist in moisture retention, keeping weeds down and to act as a layer of protection from the cold.– Using natural fertilisers such as seaweed and other organic products will feed the soil for happy, healthy plants.
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