Growing young gardeners...
Autumn is one of the busiest times in the garden, with lots of jobs to be done before the ground freezes over. It’s also the perfect time to introduce your child to gardening - a creative and healthy activity for children of all ages.
Autumn garden jobs
Plant spring bulbs
For brilliant displays, you can’t beat tulips, daffodils and hyacinths. Most bulbs are very easy to grow, and, unlike tiny vegetable seeds, they are big enough for small hands to plant and nurture. Autumn is the time to plant daffodils, crocus, hyacinths, snow drops, fritallarias and tulips.
Choose large, disease-free bulbs and ask your child to make a hole approximately 2-3 times the depth of the bulb. If you’re short of outside space, most bulbs grow well in containers, which can be moved inside when they start to bloom.
Plant spring annuals
Plant bedding plants such as pot marigolds, pansies, clarkia and larkspur for early spring displays of colour. Annuals are easy to grow and plants such as pot marigolds flower within 12 weeks – perfect for impatient young gardeners!
Now is the ideal time to plant shrubs and perennials. Do some research and buy plants that suit your garden’s conditions – not just the prettiest flowers in the shop! Pots should be full (but not crammed) with roots, and leaves should be deep green and disease-free. And try to be patient - young plants are often much cheaper, and they’ll grow up before you know it!
Now is the time to fix up patchy a lawn or sow a new one. Older children can rake the lawn, but you’ll need an adult to fertilise a few days before you sow the seed. It can be hard for little hands to sow tiny grass seeds evenly, so try using a colander or cone of paper with holes cut in it. Then, lightly rake the soil. Make sure the lawn is kept well watered (but not wet!) and is fenced off from dogs and children until established.
Established lawns can be fertilised this month using an autumn (not spring) fertiliser which should be be high in phosphates and potash and low in nitrogen.
Feed the birds
Birds will soon head south for winter, so send them off with a full stomach with bird seed and water. Children will love watching the birds, and you may even persuade some to stick around for winter!
As the weather cools down, take a walk around your local park. Autumn is one of the most colourful times of the year, and children love the crunching sound of fallen leaves underfoot!
See if you can find five or six different shapes and sizes of leaves, and take some home. With your child, draw around the leaves, cover them in paint and print with them, or make rubbings of them using crayons. Get your child to notice the veins and patterns on the leaves and see if they can tell you what they’re for. When you’re finished, cut the leaf-pictures out and make your very own autumn tree!