Gardening with children, by Biome guest blogger Julie Orr

Goodbye Winter and hello Spring! bee_img_7384 I was so happy when the first day of spring rolled in. That morning my girls went into the garden and picked a little bunch of flowers for each of their teachers. What a perfect way to welcome spring and it put a beaming smile on my face. I love seeing my girls in the garden, whether they are picking flowers or planting seeds. So this weekend I managed to purposefully set aside Saturday afternoon as spring planting time. Using some of the seeds from my previous “seed saving” article and a few extras, the girls and I got our hands dirty and enjoyed planting various new additions to our little patch. Here are a few things that we got up to. Perhaps you could try some this weekend.
  1. We had a look at all the seeds we had and thought about the best places to plant each within our little patch. This included not only thinking about sunny and shady spots, but also companion planting. Companion planting is a useful way to help individual plants grow strong and healthy by planting helper plants nearby. Some companion planting involves planting certain plants that help to deter unwanted pests, while other companion planting can also help to give shelter, or even provide a structure for neighbouring plants like beans to climb up.
  1. We admired our current flower selection and explored what type of insects these flowers were encouraging in our garden. My eldest daughter really loves insects so this is something she spent a lot of time with on Saturday. We both love our bees and have noted since adding more flowers to our garden, the number of bees in our garden are growing. Not only are we providing food for our bee friends, but they will help our garden grow. We have decided that we most definitely need to add more flowers. And I think this will be our next garden venture.
  1. We made our own pots. Some of the seeds that we had previously saved were pawpaw seeds. Because these will grow into larger trees, we didn't want to plant them directly into our garden beds. We decided it would be best to plant these into pots and once they are seedlings and have a little strength, we will plant them into suitable places for trees. My youngest really enjoyed making some pots out of recycled newspaper and our beautiful timber pot maker.
  1. We lovingly handmade garden markers. We planted so many new seeds into our little patch, it was difficult to keep track! So we decided to make labels to remind us what we had planted and where. We hadn't pre planned this activity so had to think of up cycling things we already had at hand. We came up with the idea of using some of our wooden pegs, writing on them and pegging them onto sticks. The girls enjoyed writing all the labels and I think they looked great.
  1. We gave our garden and our freshly planted seeds a good drink. At the end of the afternoon there was only one thing left to do… other than sit back and admire our handy work… and that was to give our patch a drink. Out came the hose and an old watering can and the garden got a good soak. Gardens can require a lot of water and it can be a good idea to consider how you plan to water your garden prior to planting. Do some research on your options before hand to minimise any water wastage. We all know how precious our water is.
My girls absolutely love being outdoors and are always keen to hang out in our little patch. Having a little veggie patch is a great way to remind our kids that we need to nourish and care for our earth. I, myself set aside a little time each afternoon after a big day running around and enjoy the simply pleasure of watering our patch and watching my girls enjoy the beauty of nature. Each time I try to be completely present in that moment. Julie
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