Children and the Winter Veggie Garden
Autumn can often be quite temperate - perfect for getting out in the garden. Often children want to help, but parents don't always know what interesting crops will flourish over winter now that tomatoes, corn and melons are finished. If your children are keen, here are some things that will 'do their thing in winter' or that can at least be planted now for harvesting in spring:
- If they eat coleslaw (and a surprising number of children will) then plant out the cabbages and carrots that go into this dish. (Any mint lying around the garden can be chopped through coleslaws also).
- Last year's runners on the strawberry plants will have developed roots in the soil. Help the children lift and separate these into new individual plants for the coming season. They can fork a bit of strawberry food through the soil or potting mix first.
- Colourful Swiss Chard (Bright lights Silver Beet in the Garden Centres) is easy to grow and the stems make a great colour splash in the dead of winter - tell your girls the pink stemmed ones are the 'Barbie Chard'
- If they eat garlic bread, then bulbs of garlic will appear in the garden centres at the end of May - but explain that you are going to wait and plant it when the soil is really cold - on the shortest day of the year in late June. Buy garlic and shallots: after the shortest day, when the weather (and soil temperature) has cooled right down you can plant it: Gently separate bunches into cloves and chose only the healthy ones for planting. Place garlic in holes 5cm deep with the pointed end facing upwards. Cover and layer with mulch. Garlic should be ready to harvest over the summer months.
- Broad Beans - not many children know what they are, but they are quite decorative and interesting to plant over winter and your children can eat the young fresh beans straight from the plants. (Don't cook them like our mums did - they'll never touch them again).