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Nurture the Gardener in your Child

Kids LOVE gardening. Plant something edible and watch their wonder at being able to eat it!

September 21, 2016

Nurture the Gardener in your Child

Have you ever eaten dirt? I guess the majority of people would answer, ‘yes, probably when I was a kid’. It almost seems like a toddlers Right of Passage to have ‘tried’ dirt!

shambala

The last time I did I was 51 years old. I was hosting our Queensland Culinary Tour. Craig, owner of Shambala Farm (pictured left) was telling us how great his soil was. It contained organic matter and absolutely no chemicals. He popped some in his mouth to illustrate the point. I saw an opportunity, so I went for it too. To justify my actions, it was organic dirt. And here I am today, telling the tale. I didn’t get sick and in fact it tasted almost ‘sweet’. It was just the texture that was a touch too crunchy.

So along with cooking with your children these holidays spend some time in the garden with them. Spring is a perfect time to plant something edible. Keep your project small and you won’t be overwhelmed with it on the day. Upkeep will be quick and success will be forthcoming. Results that you can include in a meal will be delicious! There is a primal thrill of picking something you have grown, fresh from your garden to add to dinner.

I suggest broad leaf herbs or greens from seed. Try one or a combination of these plants below…you’ll only need a few seeds, don’t go planting the whole packet if this is your first foray into the mystical world of growing food.

  • Flat leaf Italian Parsley
  • Basil
  • Coriander (buy a slow to bolt variety)
  • Lemon Balm
  • Any Asian Greens (super easy)
  • English Spinach (leaves can be picked and the plat will keep producing)
  • Rocket
  • Mint (there a re hundreds of flavours available including chocolate mint)

Here are some container ideas for a small project like this.

pallet garden

can of herbs

egg carton garden

Recycle pallets

These are such funky gardens. They take up minimal space as they can be planted vertically. Or if you have more space, place them flat and fill with dirt.

Here is an article on constructing a DIY Pallet Garden. You may need another ‘assistant’ for this job as if you want to do this properly, there is a fair amount of work involved. But so worth it!

Tin Cans

Small cans can be used, but larger are better. Drill or pierce holes in the base to allow drainage. Place on the ground or use ‘S’ hooks to raise off the ground on a fence or similar support.

Egg Cartons

This is the simplest method but also the most restricting. Cut the top out of the lid. The depth of the potting mix will then give more space to roots than simply using the wells and throwing out the lid. Clever idea. As seeds grow, transplant to a larger container or garden bed for best results.

Orange Tip

Slugs, snails and slaters love seedlings. Avoid the sting of bitter disappointment by placing empty orange halves upside down near your planting. They will fill with these pests. Simply throw oranges away and replace with new ones.

Micro Herbs

Try growing sprouting herbs….basically herbs in their baby stage. Full of flavour and oh-so-soft, these are fun to add to food on serving for a flourish of ‘professional chef’ on your dinner table! Snip herbs with scissors when only 4 to 5 cm high. Perfect to grow in egg cartons.

Delayed gratification seems to be a thing of the past. Explain to your kids, whether they are 4 or 14 years old that they will have to water and care for the plants as they grow. It takes time for them to form and get to the stage of harvest. The anticipation and excitement is part of the journey. This is as enjoyable as the actual picking and eating.

My fave place to go for seeds, potting mix, seedlings and great advice is Dawsons. All their plants are WA grown so are suited to the Perth climate. My local Dawsons in O’Connor is fab…ask Derek for advice at the garden centre.

BTW, please don’t actively encourage people to eat dirt especially little people. There are many different kinds of dirt out there and suburban backyard stuff is not the best!

Enjoy time in the outdoors with your children or grand-children these holidays. Make it fun and you’ll have plenty to smile about.

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Tracey Cotterell

Tracey Cotterell
FOUNDER, MANAGING DIRECTOR AND TEACHER
Tracey Cotterell

TECH DIP HOTEL CATERING AND INSTITUTIONAL MANAGEMENT

Tracey has been in the food industry since completing her Diploma in Hotel, Catering and Institutional Management in 1982 in the UK. She worked for an outside catering company in London, then joined her parents in rural West Sussex running

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Tracey Cotterell

Tracey Cotterell

FOUNDER, MANAGING DIRECTOR AND TEACHER


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