Alice Whitehead is a third generation allotmenteer that likes to grow, eat and get muddy – then write about it! With two urban allotment plots, an award-winning school garden club and an enthusiastic nine year old son to help. In this new blog series Alice shows us how to get children outdoors and into the garden this summer.
Part 1 – How To Make A Story Garden
by Alice Whitehead
Bring the magic of your children’s favourite fairy tales to life outdoors, writes Alice Whitehead, with these fun and edible ideas…
1. Little Red Train Tunnel – Buy some plastic hula hoops (three or four will do) and cut them in half. Insert bamboo canes into the soil at regular intervals and slot the cut ends of the hoops over the canes, bending them to create a tunnel. Sow climbing nasturtium seeds at the bottom of each hoop and let them climb over. You can build a train track through your tunnel and around the garden.
2. Doorway to Wonderland – Make the Lewis Carroll fantasy a reality by building a tiny rabbit-hole doorway. Glue six lollipop sticks together side by side with two halved sticks across the top and bottom for the hinges, and paint. Let it dry and add a small button for a doorknob. Place at the bottom of a tree trunk, or make lots of them and create a whole neighbourhood of White Rabbit tunnels and entrances!
3. Jack & the Beanstalk –There’s still time to have a bean race to rival Jack’s. Find some scrap wood or thick twigs to build a tepee and push them into the ground, tying at the top with string. Trade your family cow for climbing bean plants and position one at the bottom of each support. As they grow they’ll wrap themselves around the wigwam, and the children can have fun building a Lego house for Jack at the bottom and play-acting with ‘giant’ toys at the top.
4. The Box of Delights – Miniature gardens really fire up the imagination. Create a tiny allotment in a shoebox, covered inside with a plastic bag, or in an old wooden wine box with drilled drainage holes. Paint the outside of your box (use exterior paint if you want to keep it outdoors) and use stencils or potato prints to add snails, butterflies or flowers. Place some pebbles in the bottom of the box and fill to half way with peat-free compost, mixed with a little water retaining gel. Small herbs like thyme can be planted as shrubs and trees, while rows of veg can be created with tiny seeds such as cress or lettuce – just don’t let them get too big! Water in your plants, and add a shed made from air-dried clay, pretty pebbles and bunting. A tin foil cake case makes a lovely mini ‘pond’!
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