Check out our latest magazine... Read Online

Kids Zone: Get the Kids Growing

Read on for some green fingered ideas to get the kids involved in the garden from Sara Whatley

Many Children relish being in command, to feel the power and responsibility of authority. A wonderful way to give them a healthy taste of this is through their own gardening patch, or their own container.

Gardening is a brilliant way for children to learn about nature and get really stuck in themselves – the muddier the hands and knees the better! It will benefit them physically, emotionally and mentally, and hopefully it will give them a healthy understanding of food production and may encourage them to try eating new fruits, vegetables and plants too. Thinking about gardening with children can also provide the perfect opportunity to make some fun trips.

There are lots of beautiful houses and gardens to visit in Sussex, many of which have inspirational kitchen gardens. You may want to take a notebook and camera to help you and your children remember what piqued their fancy. Visiting a garden centre can be a great day trip too. Before you go, get the children to think about what sort of plants, fruits or vegetables they would like to grow (they could even draw plans of their patch) and then find them once you are at the garden centre. They may be inspired to try growing something new that they find there too – experimenting with new plants is always exciting.

Of course, garden centres are also just fun places to visit! My kids love finding the animal sculptures and seeing if there are any water feature displays, while I browse the seeds and plants.

The gift shop is always a big draw, and if there is a café...well, you know where to find us. To help children get growing, you could give them their own tools and gloves, and encourage them to do the watering on their patch – it’s always fun to water!

FIVE PLANTS TO GROW WITH CHILDREN

• Sunflowers – big, easy to plant seeds, quick growth, bright and beautiful flowers, and a delicious meal for the birds at the end of their season

• Mint – looks vibrant, smells fresh and tastes zingy, perfect for engaging all the senses. Mint grows fast, is tough and doesn’t mind being picked at

• Strawberries – delicious jewel-like succulent red fruits hiding beneath the leaves just waiting for little fingers to search out and gobble up

• Tumbling tomatoes – perfect container plants for the patio or even windowsill. Watch an abundance of juicy red cherry tomatoes appear through to September

• Nasturtiums – with bright orange to red and yellow flowers, this scrambling plant looks inviting and is edible too; flowers are sweet, leaves and seeds have a wonderful peppery taste

More from Homes and Gardens

  • Blooming Times: The Sky's the Limit

    The clematis family offers flowers in a wide array of colours and shapes, and there are varieties for nearly every month of the year, says Flo Whitaker

  • Homes Extra: Shed Space

    Are you thinking of a new shed, greenhouse or garden room? Sara Whatley gives you some food for thought on all three

  • Blooming Times: Top of the Pots

    How are your patio pots? Show-stopping, or lacklustre? Time to try some different planting combinations, suggests Flo Whitaker

  • Home Style: Pastures New

    The grass really was greener for this family, who left behind their recently remodelled London house for a new life in the country

  • Homes Extra: Let There Be Light

    Read on for the latest in home and garden lighting ideas for a bright and up to date space, says Sara Whatley

  • Blooming Times: Wisteria Hysteria

    With its exquisitely fragrant, show-stopping blooms, wisteria is the queen of spring climbers – yet it can be frustratingly sulky and thuggish. Flo Whitaker offers a quick troubleshooting guide to floral success

  • Home Style: Home on Wheels

    A plot on the family farm with stunning marshland views was the ideal spot for Freddie Pack and Katie McNie to build their new home – a cabin on wheels

  • Home Style: Modern Outlook

    Downsizing couple Pauline and Bill chose practicality over space, but didn’t compromise on their love of mid-century style

  • Blooming Times: Dahlia Mania

    Inexpensive, hardworking plants with blooms in a vast array of colours and shapes - no flower is perfect, but dahlias come pretty close, says Flo Whitaker

  • Home Style: Time to Heal

    After losing her husband, Tracy Nors threw all her energies into renovating a period terrace in the pretty town of Rye

  • Blooming Times: Spring into Summer

    Say the word ‘bulb’ and thoughts of spring immediately come to mind - but there are some bulbus characters to plant now for summer colour. Flo Whitaker selects a few of her favourites

  • Home Style: Farm Stay

    While living in a tiny cabin on the family farm, Freddie and Katie Pack saved up to build their dream house on a plot a few fields away

  • Home Style: Romantic Vision

    Tim and Jenny Backshall rescued a derelict timber-framed hall house, respecting its history while future proofing for generations to come

  • Homes Extra: Dining Style

    Sara Whatley is singing the praises of the dining table and looking at different styling options for it

  • Blooming Times: Spring Fever

    February is often labelled the cruellest month in the horticultural calendar. However, Flo Whitaker suggests there is still plenty of opportunity for growth

  • Home Style: Forest Idyll

    Moving the kitchen became the start of a much bigger project for the Buckinghams, as it created opportunities to change their new home

  • Blooming Times: What's in a Name?

    Botanical Latin may seem daunting, but it’s designed to be helpful and informative, says Flo Whitaker

  • Gardening: The Benefits of Hedges

    Gardeners are a flower-obsessed lot, greedily seeking out the latest, brightest blooms. That’s all very well, but ephemeral flowers need a stage to perform on. Plant a hedge - they add structure, benefit wildlife and look good all year round.

  • Home Style: Treasure Trove

    The interior of a quaint, white-washed cottage in Sussex has been transformed into a colourful home full of character by a couple of keen collectors.

  • Blooming Times: Awesome Alliums

    Easy-going and beloved by bees - now’s the perfect time to plant allium bulbs for a spectacular display next year. Flo Whitaker picks some of her favourites.