Fun Garden Projects For Kids

I don’t know of any keen gardener who doesn’t want to pass on their passion to their kids. There is nothing like the excitement of seeds germinating or seeing your garden flourish.

So, here is a suggestion. Why not start with easy garden projects that give quick rewards yet give them the basic skills of growing plants and veggies.

Egg-stra special seed trays

What better place to start than with seeds? Most veggies can be started in seed trays, which are easy to manage in terms of everything from sowing to transplanting. Eggboxes or egg trays make the perfect seed-germinating trays, and are also a good example of how to reuse and repurpose such a common household item.

All you need is a bag of germinating mix, veggie seeds (which you can choose together), a marker pen, a spritzer bottle and plastic cling wrap or seethrough plastic bags.

  • Start by filling the cavities in the egg tray with germinating mix. This can be nice and messy. It helps to use paper cups to scoop the germinating mix into the cavities.
  • Sow the seeds. As you know, the sowing depth of different seeds varies, with finer seed being shallow sown and larger seed placed deeper. Show your children how to do the first cavity or two and let them get on with it, under your watchful eye.
  • Once the seed is sown, show them how to gently firm down the soil.
  • Don’t forget to identify the veggie sown in each tray. Use the marker pen to write the name of each veggie on the side of the egg tray or use a wooden peg clipped onto it.
  • Thoroughly wet the soil using a spritzer bottle filled with water.
  • Cover the egg trays with plastic cling wrap or see-through plastic bags tied closed. This creates a mini-green house and provides a moist micro-climate that keeps the soil damp for longer.
  • Place the seed trays in a warm, sheltered spot.
  • Most seeds take 7 – 14 days to germinate, so remind the kids to check the trays after a week to see if they need watering. Of course, they will probably be watching the trays like hawks to get the first glimpse of the little green tips pushing up through the soil.
  • When that happens, congratulations all round! Take off the plastic and keep the soil moist.

Worms as pets!

The thought of wriggling worms will either gross out the kids or fascinate them! Building a wormery will certainly engage them while learning about the valuable role of earthworms, composting and recycling.

You will need a dark bucket with a fitted lid, a drill or soldering iron, shredded newspaper or dried leaves, household scraps, two bricks, an empty plastic ice-cream container or similar container, and red wriggler compost worms.

Note: Ordinary earthworms aren’t suitable for a wormery. Red wriggler worms can be bought from suppliers, or ask a friend with a wormery for a handful of worms to get you going.

  • Make two or three drainage holes in the bottom of the bucket for worm liquid (called worm tea) to drain out, and a double row of holes around the top of the bucket to allow the worms to breathe.
  • Fill ½ – 3/4 of the bucket with moistened shredded newspaper as a bed for the worms.
  • Put in the worms and add food scraps (veggie peels, bread, pasta, coffee grounds, tea bags) for the worms. (Do not add any dairy products, citrus, onions, oil or meat.)
  • Put the bucket in a warm, dark place or in the kitchen, with the lid firmly on. Place the bucket on two bricks, with the ice-cream tub underneath to catch the liquid.

Encourage the kids to check on their pet worms and take responsibility for adding scraps to the bucket. If the contents get too moist, add more newspaper. After 4 – 6 months, worm castings (worm compost) will build up. They can be scooped out (leaving the worms behind) and added to the garden.

Get creative with veggie row markers

Markers for veggie rows not only help to keep tabs on the overall planting scheme, but can introduce an element of fun. Painted rocks as markers are a cheap and colourful option, with plenty of scope to get creative.

You will need smooth stones or rocks (collected or bought from a garden centre), child-safe acrylic or gouache paint (check with a craft shop), paint brushes, black markers (optional) and outdoor varnish. Also, plenty of newspaper (because it gets messy) and old clothes that you won’t mind getting paint-stained.

  • Wash and dry the stones. Based on the veggies being planted, choose colours for the stones (like orange for carrots, red for tomatoes and green for peppers or beans).
  • Apply the first base coat, to cover the whole stone. For smaller kids, a washable gouache may be a good option, and acrylic for older kids.
  • Once the first coat is dry, apply a second coat. For some colours, like yellow, more coats might be necessary for a good, strong colour.
  • When the stones are dry, the kids can choose to paint or write the veggie names on the rocks (Bertie Beetroot, Carol Carrot) or make funny faces, including lines and leaves that identify the veggie of their choice.
  • To weather-proof the stones, apply an outdoor varnish. This should be done in a well-ventilated area, paying careful attention to the product’s instructions. Another quicker option is to paint wooden clothes pegs in different bright colours and use a permanent marker to write the name of the veggie on the dried pegs. Clip the peg onto a stick and push it into the soil at the head of the bed.

Build a bug hotel

Building a bug hotel is a great opportunity for kids to learn about beneficial insects, like bees, wasps, ladybirds and centipedes, and how to attract them to the garden by providing shelter.

An old bird house, wooden crate, or pile of logs can also be made into a bug hotel. Once you have a bug hotel, send the kids out to find the ‘furnishings.’

  • Rolled up tubes provide the best shelter for bees and other insects that need a safe place to breed.
  • Twigs, sticks and stems all bundled together offer refuge for ladybirds, ground beetles and hoverflies, which prey on aphids.
  • Hollow bamboo canes provide a nest for solitary bees. They lay their eggs in the canes then seal up the hole with mud or leaves.
  • Straw, dried grass, dried leaves or rolled up cardboard make cosy quarters for lacewings, which prey on sucking insects like aphids, scale and mites.
  • Rotting wood can be a feast for wood-boring beetles. Use this as a base for the hotel and add other decaying material to attract centipedes (which devour slugs) and garden spiders. Surround the bug hotel with flowers in pots or plant flowers to attract butterflies and bees.

The best place for the bug hotel is on a flat, level surface that is sheltered from the wind and is close to an insect ‘hot spot’ in the veggie garden.

Quick and easy home-made sprinkler

Watering the veggie garden doesn’t have to be a chore with this home-made sprinkler, which can also keep the kids cool on a hot day.

You will need a 2-litre plastic cooldrink bottle, a drill or soldering iron, heavy-duty waterproof tape and a garden hose that is narrow enough to fit snugly into the bottle.

  • Make holes in the top and sides of the plastic bottle, using the drill or soldering iron. How you place the holes will determine how the water sprouts out.
  • Push the hose a little way into the neck of the bottle. Secure it by taping it to the neck of the bottle and along part of the hose – the more tape the better.
  • Connect the other end of the hose to the tap and turn it on. Don’t turn it full on but build up the pressure until it starts spurting.
The Gardener