mini gardeners

inspiring gardening projects for children


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Rainbow Beans

rainbow beansThis year we’ve been growing dwarf beans instead of the usual climbing beans.

The main reason for the switch is that dwarf beans are lower maintenance; there’s no need to build a wigwam to support the plants or to keep tying them in as they grow. And although the plants only grow to around 40cm tall, the yield from each plant is surprisingly high and small children can help with the harvesting. They must be one of the easiest, pest and disease free vegetables to grow (apart from the blackfly earlier in the year but we sent them packing with a dilute spray of washing up liquid).

I picked up the seeds at the Chelsea Flower Show, from Pennard Plants, who specialise in heritage and heirloom seeds.  The packet was described as ‘Dazzling Dwarf Mix’ and as well as producing plants with purple, green or yellow beans, there are some dwarf borlotti beans and runner beans too.

And if that isn’t enough to convince you to give them a try, the purple beans have the added bonus of their very own magic trick – they turn green when cooked.

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No children please, we’re British

As well as being a terribly British affair, the Chelsea Flower is no place for children.  Children under 5 are banned and it’s usually so crowded that you wouldn’t wish to risk having your over 5s squashed.  But there’s still plenty of inspiration at Chelsea for child-friendly family gardens.

insect house chelsea flower show 2013

This enormous insect house was constructed on the end of a shed – a great project for an ambitious school gardening club?

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Eco Soil

…. and the “root or shoot first?” experiment.

eco soil

My daughters visited a craft fair recently and returned with an intriguing present for me – a bag of eco soil.

You’re probably picturing in your mind a big, heavy compost-sized bag but it was tiny and contained what looked like lots of miniature yellow beads.  After soaking in water for a few hours we ended up with a mass of soft, water-filled capsules as in the photograph on the left.

The leaflet describes the eco soil as a water and soil substitute for flowers and indoor plants and we love it!  Once we’d managed to stop running our fingers through it (it’s very tactile) we decided to use it for a little experiment with a runner bean seed.  We wondered if the shoot or the root would emerge from the seed first or whether they’d both appear at the same time.

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