mini gardeners

inspiring gardening projects for children

Gardening in the wettest January since records began

6 Comments

Dear Weather,

Ok, I’ve had enough now.  It was very kind of you to work so hard in January. I’m really not worried about a hosepipe ban this year. But I am worried that if you don’t stop soon, I’ll be able to canoe to the allotment.

Yours, ever so slightly damp, from London.

PS Also, I have to run a school gardening club through the depths of winter and you’re making life very difficult.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Actually, despite being the wettest January on record for some parts of the UK, many of the school gardening club sessions last month coincided with dry days.  So although I had my list of indoor gardening-related activities at the ready, we were able to garden outside.  Since the soil has been saturated and unworkable, this is what has been keeping us busy over the last few weeks:  

growing pea shoots on a windowsill

Easy-peasy, quick results and cheap to do  – this one is ticking a lot of boxes.

Last week I sent ten 7 and 8 year olds home with a tray of planted peas each, plus instructions to place them on a windowsill inside and water every couple of days. A week later and my mini gardeners are reporting that all the trays are showing signs of germination. 100% success, I like that.

The peas we planted were dried (marrowfat) peas from the supermarket that I had soaked overnight in water.

soak dried peas in water before planting

Then we took some recycled plastic food containers with holes in the base and half filled them with compost. We placed a layer of peas on top, keeping them in a single layer but packing them quite closely together.

planting pea shoots

We covered with compost, watered, labelled and then put in a light place.  Shoots generally started to appear within 3 to 5 days. Within 2 to 3 weeks the first pea shoots should be ready to harvest and, if we’re lucky, we may have 2 to 3 harvests from each tray.

On a completely different subject, today we took root cuttings of mint. To keep things interesting, we used Moroccan mint, pineapple mint and chocolate mint.

The Moroccan mint plant was living in a terracotta pot last year and you can see how the roots have started to spiral round the inside of the pot. This is such a vigorous mint that I usually repot it every spring anyway.

taking root cuttings of mint

Repotting is as easy as cutting sections of root, placing them on the compost surface and covering with a thin layer of compost.

taking root cuttings of mint

Which left plenty of roots for the whole gardening club to have a small pot each plus some spares.

Like the peas, these are fairly robust plants. We’ll leave them outside to fend for themselves and when shoots start appearing, they’ll be taken home to keep.

Advertisements

6 thoughts on “Gardening in the wettest January since records began

  1. Really great gardening club ideas. Am now feeling slightly guilty that I’m not going to think about starting my pre-schoolers until after half term. I’m such a fair weather gardener…

  2. Excellent that you keep the club going through winter – I helped to start up an after school gardening club but had to give up when it clashed with my college day. I hear that they stop gardening when it gets too dark to go outside as there’s only a borrowed classroom indoors. Such a shame, they’d love an activity like this! What do you do in the dead of winter (November/December)?

    • Hi Caro, an after school gardening club in winter sounds like a challenge! I can imagine the light levels being a bit of a problem. At lunchtime in the dead of winter we’ve managed to plant broad beans and tulips in the ground and hyacinths in pots to take home. Plus gardening/craft type activities like making grass heads and seed packets are always useful in case we’re forced indoors, although I always try and resist taking compost inside – it never ends well.

  3. I’ll be giving the mint root cuttings a try soon – thanks for the idea

    • I only started doing this a couple of years ago but it really invigorates the plants. Plus it stops the inevitable root spiralling which results in lots of cramped growth around the edge of the pot.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s