A new year brings new activities and options for gardening and the launch of ‘Gardening with the Kids’, a series of monthly posts to get your garden looking great whilst having fun with your children.
Each month we look at what is happening in the garden, with a fun activity, whilst also planting several plants and vegetables to help grow an active garden all year round.
The Garden in January
The great thing about snow, is how easy it is to get the family outside and enjoying the garden. There are also a few tasks to keep the garden healthy. Make sure that if there is any heavy snow on branches, it’s brushed off. Kids can help with this, knocking the snow on the floor. This will stop the branches from snapping underneath the weight.
You might think that you should also dig out plants that have been covered, but it’s best to leave them be. They’ll grow out again in the spring and if it’s too cold, digging them out of the snow won’t help.
As the winter weather kicks in you will notice a variety of differences in your garden, starting with the creatures that inhabit it. Until the end of February ground animals like hedgehogs disappear into hibernation while many birds fly south for the winter.
Of course, not all birds and creatures disappear through the winter months, and some can be spotted in your garden all through winter. The classic example would be robins, but there’s also the Blue tit, the great spotted woodpecker and the Bullfinch. Each type of bird will be seen in different types of gardens.
You can encourage them by providing the right food in your feeder. Bullfinches can be attracted with sunflower hearts that are rich in oil while the peanuts left over from the festive season may be perfect for the woodpeckers close to your home.
Another way of attracting birds like robins to your garden would be to cut up fruit and scatter it around the ground Make sure it is small enough so that it is easy for them to eat, focusing on fruit like plums apples and pears. This brings us neatly to the type of fruit and veg that you can grow in your garden through January.
Fruit And Veg
Through January, there are a few fruit and vegetables that you can grow outside and a greater selection perfect for the conservatory or perhaps even your greenhouse.
Gardening outdoors, you should focus on blackberry, raspberry and blueberry bushes. You’ll love gardening these and so will your kids. It’s satisfying to wake in the morning and discover that the berries on the bushes you planted are ripe and ready to be picked. They also have gorgeous flavours that kids can’t resist and are a great way to get them eating healthily.
- Blackberry Bush
- Raspberry Bush
- Blueberry Bush
The great thing about fruits like Blackberries is that they are adaptable to different climates. This means that the bushes you plant will flourish through January. One of the key aspects to think about here is watering. These fruit plants will need to be watered every couple of days, and this is a great job for kids once they are shown how to water the bushes lightly. If you are unsure where to grow a berry bush, underneath a tree or next to a fence is a good place to start.
Flowers & Plants
Pansies are a wonderful option for your winter garden as they hunker down under a snowfall and survive the chilly weather. In fact, if you plant them now they’ll flourish all the way through spring. You can scatter the seeds of pansies in your garden but do make sure that they are planted in an area of the garden that gets a lot of sunlight.
- Sweet Peas
Sweet peas are another flower that will survive the winter weather and in fact, thrive in colder climates. They are easy to grow too and simply require a small pot of compost. A great activity for kids is pinching the sweet pea shoots. After a few weeks, the shoots will grow tall, and one way of encouraging side shoots, and more flowers is to pinch the top of the stems. That way the plant will be bushier and you’ll get more flowers!
If you’re looking for a fun gardening activity for January, we suggest you make some fat cakes for the bids. Birds adore these cakes, and they provide them with the energy and sustenance needed through the winter months. You’ve probably seen these feeding balls in shops but you can actually make them yourself with scraps you might have left over in the kitchen like cheese and porridge oats.
- 250gm Lard
- 250gm Bird Seed
- 250gm Mix of Nuts, Raisins, Peanuts, Grated Cheese, Oats
- 12 Old Yoghurt Pots or Mini Cake Cases
Note. This project uses nuts and hot lard – so caution needs to be taken.
To make these cakes, you need to choose what you’re going to make the mixture out of be it oats or dried fruit. This needs to all be mixed in a bowl and let your kids handle this job. While they’re doing that, you can melt the lard in a pan. Once it’s melted, carefully add it to the mixture.
While you’re taking over on this front, your kids can move on to preparing a yoghurt pot. A piece of string needs to be put through the base of the pot, and then the mixture can be added. Once you have done this, leave it in the fridge overnight.
The next day, cut away the pot, and you’ll find the mixture has solidified. Tie a knot at the end of the string to make sure it stays on and then tie the top part to a tree. Wait and watch as birds soon appear to take a nibble from this delicious treat.
Planning for February
Before you go make sure you take these tips for enjoying gardening with your kids next month. We’re going to be planting more veg so make sure you plan a place for planting them. You can even get the soil ready now with some compost.
We’re going to be using those painted flower pots for a few herbs so do order some coriander, rocket, silverbeet or rosemary.
We’re also going to be planting some bulbs in pots too so discuss with the kids and choose the colours you want.