Gardening is a great way to connect with children and is very therapeutic. It teaches them responsibility and about how things grow with the right nurturing and love – it sounds like parenting, right? Well it really does take a lot of the same aspects of parenting to grow a good solid garden. For kids you can involve them in every process from starting the seeds, right through to the picking of the fruit and vegetable and finally with using them in cooking or eating them fresh. Here are a few tips around setting up your own upcycled garden, if you’re short on space and want to save some cash.
Step one: Starting your seeds
There are seedling trays you can buy from garden centers, but one issue you can face when transferring your seedlings from one of these into the soil is root shock. When roots are exposed to the outside air it can put your grow time back by a few weeks. We found a really cool way to start our seeds off using old toilet rolls, minimising root shock.
- Start by finding a tray or plate to stand your toilet rolls on.
- Using a tablespoon, fill each roll ¾ full with seed raising soil mix.
- Place you seed or seeds depending on the packet instructions onto the soil and top off with more mix.
- Water and put in a sunny spot. We made signs for ours with the date to tell the different seeds apart.
The seed raising process can take a while. We started with a ton of tomato seeds, and after the time it suggested we had had no results, so we went out and bought some pre raised seedlings. Next thing we knew, a week or so later our seedlings started coming through. We ended up with over 30 tomato plants! So be patient with your seeds. Otherwise, there is the option of going straight to seedlings, although at between $1.50-$5.00 for a tray of around 6 seedlings you will get much more for your money starting with seeds, and if you have a couple of kids you can have a tray for each of them with their own mix of seeds.
Step Two: Moving your seedlings to your planters.
Toilet roll tubes are great because they are biodegradable and will breakdown in the soil you can just plant the whole thing right into the garden, which helps to eliminate root shock. When we were setting up our garden idea we had no lawn section to plant our vegies in so we had to think outside the box… or rather, in the box! We found we had a few of those rolling storage bins down in the shed that we were no longer using, and thought they would make great planters.
Here are a few steps to setting up your planter boxes. We also used buckets, which you can pick up at your local Kmart for around $1.50, or if you need something with greater depth those flexi tub’s in 40Ltr from the warehouse are great and only $7.00. They have handles, giving you the ability to move them round if needed.
- First, make some holes in the bottom for drainage – with the rolling containers we used a drill to make these.
- Add some small stones in the bottom, these help with the drainage and stop the soil blocking up the holes.
- Using a good quality soil is important, we used a Daltons potting mix, and they have one that comes in a bag with a purple label which your local Bunning’s stocks at different times throughout the year. The staff member swore by it, and it was awesome.
Once you have transferred your seedlings into your planters, keeping them regularly watered and in the recommended sunlight spot will ensure a good result. This is a fun activity to do with kids of all ages, but I think the younger ones will really enjoy it. Our three year old loves going out in the morning with her watering can to help daddy water the vegies, and it’s a great way to teach them about where vegetables come from, and different types too. And once your fruit and vegetables are ready to pick, kids love going out and help collect them for cooking, yet another thing they can be part of, even if it just means they help carry them if and wash the herbs and vegies, they still feel part of the whole process.