Winter Gardening with kids is one of the easiest ways to encourage your kids to eat their 5 a day. Teach them to grow their own fruit and vegetables. Even in Winter there is lots to grow.
No! don’t panick! We’re not talking turning your prized lawn into a field of potatoes and peas. Starting small is the key here.
Trust me no matter your skill in gardening you can grow a lot of delicious food to help supplement your meals and make mealtime more fun.
There are so many super easy plants to grow with your kids
and fun garden activities to do with your kids that take little space, energy or time, but give your kids an amazing skill and a love of growing their own.
When kids experience doing it for themselves, they want to try it to eat it and end up loving it! Well most of the time.
Winter Gardening Activities For Kids
WInter is actually a wonderful time to get kids involved. There is time to experiment and try out ideas while everything outdoors is slowing down.
There’s also time to plan activities, and try some low-cost indoor ideas too.
This week for example, we have just planted some flower bulbs for a splash of colour in Spring time.
We’ve also just planted some over-winter onion and garlic bulbs for an earlier harvest next year, as well as collecting Sweet pea, Calendula and Lupin seed pods to dry them out so we can sow them in Spring too.
Hang on, I hear you say, those are flowers! Yes they are, but as part of growing vegetables, there’s a whole ecosystem that works together to benefit each other that includes flowers, wildlife and nature.
To teach kids about how everything works together amazing and to see them understand their place in that circle is wonderful (Plus there are edible flowers like Calendula that can be added to salads and meals to make everything look pretty.)
If you have room for a few pots outdoors, winter is the perfect time to invest in some fruit. A patio apple
or pear tree gives you lovely spring blossom and fruit.
Or why not start with a few trusty strawberries
. Even supermarkets sell these plants now and a tray of 6 plants goes a long way. My kids love playing in the garden in summer helping themselves to tasty red strawberries.
To grow vegetables plants must be pollinated so growing flowers and helping out wildlife isn’t just fun, its essential to grow healthy food, beautiful flowers and tasty fruit.
Gardening should be fun, full of information about the world around them and above all, tasty.
But what about the cost of seeds ?
When you begin, you may need to buy some seeds. The set above is a great beginner pack and includes soil discs, seeds and paper pots. Great gift idea!!
However, for the cost of a cup of coffee you could have hundreds of edible plants?
Also, once you get the hang of things you can start to save seeds for the following year.
If you’d rather not invest money this year, why not start off by growing your left overs? Yes seriously!!
- You could regrow carrot tops to produce carrot flavour leaves for salads, and soups?
- Regrow garlic cloves for some leafy greens to add to a meal or maybe grow some dried peas in a pot for lush pea shoots to chomp on.
- You could also regrow lettuce and celery from the base, start a windowsill herb garden, or even try growing lemon pips in a pretty mug. They make a beautiful house plant and the smell is delicious. They can also be used in cooking, a little like kaffir lime leaves.
In addition to teaching kids how to grow some simple fruit and vegetables. Try other fun growing activities like;
- Showing kids how to make their own Loo roll pots to grow in.
- Make a mini propagator to give plants a good start . This is especially useful in winter with cool air and low light levels. A little protection can give more heat and allow you to grow a wider range of plants. You could also buy one like this.
- In Winter, it’s also the best time to start chilli and pepper plants on a warm windowsill or even start your own mushrooms under the stairs.
A Great Winter Gardening Activity, Is To Start A Range Of Rot Pots.
- Simply take a large pop bottle, a range of twigs, shredded paper and compostable kitchen waste like peelings, tea bags and fruit (not onions or citrus).
- Simply layer up your bottle with a layer of twigs’ chopped up as small as possible, then a layer of kitchen waste, a layer of paper.
- Then a layer of kitchen waste and continue until you fill the bottle. Leave the lid off and store somewhere outdoors for 6 weeks.
- Once ready it’ll look like black soil and give you a very nutritious food to give to your growing plants (for FREE bonus!)
- Making a wormery to help compost your kitchen waste is also a brilliant idea and give you a wonderful natural feed for your plants. It is also fascinating to watch the worms make tunnels through the layers or soil and sand. Think of it like having a useful family of worm pets.
You could grow conventional fruit and vegetables, or why not try growing something a bit more unusual that you can’t buy at the supermarket??
Winter Gardening, Also Means Planning.
Check out online seed companies and order their seed catalogues to have a look over and see what plants you want to grow for next year.
We draw out our gardening area on a large sheet of paper and the kids love to cut out pictures of their desired plants and lay it out.
For us its a great way to recap the year past and to plan some amazing activities for the coming year.
- Build your own terrarium.
- Plant bulbs in pots for spring colour.
- Plant onion and garlic bulbs in cell trays when the weather is bad so they can get a head start until the soil is ready for planting.
Make cress heads
A wonderful activity for younger kids is making their own cress heads. Cress is a super fast growing seedling.
- Take a few washed yogurt pots and pop in a few pieces of cotton wool.
- Soak it with water and sprinkle with cress seeds.
- We like to make faces on the yogurt pots with googly eyes and stickers, so when the cress grows it looks like hair and the kids can give it a hair cut.
Pinecones or other nuts make great projects over the winter. Collect closed pine cones and sit them onto of damp compost. In time the pine cone will sprout.
Collecting acorns and chestnuts is important too, these trees are so important for our ecosystem.
These trees are so large and grow to such old age it’s important to grow more to replace older trees.
Some trees are having a hard time with disease and climate change so if we can help to protect them for the future by teaching kids how to grow and care for them then that’s a benefit to everyone?
- Simply pop them in pots of soil over the winter as they need a cold period to help them germinate and in the spring they will sprout and grow strongly.
- Pot them on into larger pots as they grow and eventually you can plant them out somewhere they are needed.
Hawthorn, holly, ivy and rosehips can all be grown over winter too.
They can be used in so many recipes too, Check out this recipe from the river cottage ‘Preserves’ book A.K.A my bible for food) for rosehip syrup which is oh so good for your vitamin C intake and makes a great sauce for ice cream.
Winter Gardening Crafts For Winter
- Plant labels so you can identify your seeds once you start sowing.
- Bird feeders to attract the local birds and wildlife. A great help once you get your plants growing. The good birds and bugs help protect your seedlings from bugs that want to eat your hard work.
- Save loo roll tubes to use as seed pots
- Make sun catchers
Melted pony bead sun catchers are so simple to make. We’ve made them for every season and they are fantastic for getting kids to grips with colour, nature and plants as well as thinking about the sun and weather that will affect their plants.
Whatever activities you try. Make it fun. Kids won’t be interested in anything that feels like a chore!
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