I received an emergency tweet last week from a very good friend asking for some basic gardening advice to get her and her children going with growing. Bonus Boy and I have risen to the challenge, he is SO excited about teaching ‘the children in Ireland’ how to do what we love doing together!

Over the next few weeks we are going to  be posting detailed instructions to get Kate and her family growing with confidence. We cannot guarantee success, plants can be fickle things, but we’re going to have a very good go! I’ll post a weekly bulletin here which Kate and her lovely children will hopefully follow to the letter and we should end up with some lovely flowers and one or two things to eat by the end of the summer! It would be lovely if some more families wanted to join in.

We went shopping and we bought five packets of child friendly, easy grow seeds, divided them in half kept one half ourselves and posted the rest to Ireland. Kate asked for plants which would grow well in hanging baskets as well as in pots and in the ground.

We are growing:

Tomatoes: Tumbling Tom Red – these are brilliant planted in hanging baskets and I have a little trick up my sleeve to make them even more exciting for children!

Sunflowers: Little Leo – a dwarf sunflower which is perfect in tubs and in borders

Sweet Peas: Dwarf Explorer Mixed – a low growing sweet pea which doesn’t need staking and lots of work, again they work well in pots or directly into borders

Nasturtium: Jewel Mixed – these grow anywhere (Kate, you pronounce it Nass – tur – shum :-) ) My Mum calls them Nasty Urchins because they can take over a bit but I like their wildness and they only last for the summer with their bright happy faces and then they are gone!

Runner Beans: Scarlet Emperor – I always grow runner beans, even if I forget everything else! They are brilliant to grow with children because you can almost see them growing every day. They are fast, huge and delicious. We always let a few pods dry out and harvest the beans to grow again the next year; brilliant for showing children the full cycle of life!

All our seeds are from Mr Fothergill’s which are widely available and easy to get hold of.

Four days ago we planted the nasturtiums, tomatoes and sunflowers.

Kate, this week you will need:

seed pots or trays, peat free multi purpose compost, a watering can, a tray without holes in to put your pots in (garden centres sell these), a misting spray, plant labels.

Week One: Planting Nasturtiums, Tomatoes and Sunflowers

1. Fill your seed pots with compost and lightly firm down. We put another empty seed pot on top and press down lightly.

2. Pop your seeds on top of the compost. Have a different tray for each plant type. (you don’t have to put the packets on Kate, you’ll need to take the seeds out or they won’t grow 😉 I put them there for photographic effect! If you look at the compost you can see the little black sunflower seeds he has popped on the surface!)

3. Poke and Pinch. This is Bonus Boy’s planting mantra, poke the seed in and pinch the soil over the top. The nasturtiums and sunflowers need to be poked in to about 1½cm deep and the tomatoes about ½ cm but we aren’t very careful about this! As long as they are not pushed right to the bottom and don’t remain on the surface they’ll be fine.

4. Label them – do this now or you will forget!

5. Pop your seed tray or pots into a water filled tray and allow them to soak up the water. This gets the compost nice and moist without washing the seeds away.

6. Put them on a sunny windowsill (you can cover them with a clear plastic lid or a clear plastic bag supported by kebab sticks if you want, this will speed the growing up a bit but is not necessary. If you do cover them, take the cover off as soon as the first seedlings appear) Make sure you have drip trays underneath so you don’t spoil your sills!

7. Mist the compost every day to keep it moist but not waterlogged.

8. Our seedlings should appear in about 7 – 14 days.

Children can get very frustrated waiting for seedlings to appear so it’s a good idea to plant some cress seeds which appear almost overnight to keep them interested.

You can also set them to making newspaper plant pots for next week’s runner bean and sweet pea planting!

If you’ve got any questions about gardening with children or getting going with growing pop them in a comment and I will do my best to answer them! If you’d like to join in with our challenge I would be delighted, let me know how you’re getting on and if you blog about it I’ll pop over for a look!



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