Gardening Activities for Babies & Toddlers

Over the last year we’ve come to realise that gardening with a baby in tow can be quite a challenge, especially if you’ve got a little firecracker like our boy Henry, who doesn’t want to sit still for a minute, but has to be supervised at all times as he’s only just 1!

However we’ve also discovered that there are plenty of gardening activities that you can include the baby in, no matter how young they are!

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School Garden Design Workshop

Today I had the pleasure of working with pupils at a local school, Carrfield Primary Academy, as part of their ‘Eco Day’!

I worked with four different year groups, first explaining to them how we turned our overgrown garden from this:

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The start of a New Growing Season

What lovely weather it’s been today!

Our first opportunity to get out in the garden as a family and get the growing season up and running for 2016!

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It was also our first chance to introduce Henry to the garden, thanks to my Mum who spent the day walking him round, entertaining him, and pushing his pushchair at naptime!

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Garden Planning 2016

I love this time of year! When it’s cold, dark and everyone’s a little bit miserable, it’s a great time to snuggle up in front of the fire on a dark night and start planning the year ahead in the vegetable garden! I’m making this sound very poetic aren’t I!

I always create a list of the vegetables I want to grow and do a rough guide of where I’m planting each one by using the Growveg.com app, but I have to be honest I never stick 100% to my plan. I vow that I’ll grow everything from seed but then end up also buying plants from the garden centre; and of course every year, some things I’ve attempted just don’t come off!

I create my wishlist of vegetables first, then plot where to plant them. The app is really helpful with this as if you use the same plan year on year, it’ll highlight in red where you’ve situated a particular crop previously so you can avoid planting in the same bed in consecutive years.

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When I’m deciding what to grow, I start by listing the vegetables that we eat most frequently, or that will be most useful to us (and our family and friends!) Then I consider what else I want to achieve from the growing season, usually it’s to try something different or unusual or hard to grow, but this year I’m going for productivity over ambition!

We’ve got a new little mouth to feed and I want to make sure Henry eats as many fruits and vegetables from the garden as we can possibly grow, so sucessional sowing is the key this year! I need a constant supply of staples such as carrots, tomatoes, beans and courgettes, as well as introducing different tastes to him throughout the season!

Finally, a #teething aid that’s actually effective! #carrot #weaning #blw

A photo posted by Helen Lee (@pickleshlee) on Jan 13, 2016 at 12:26pm PST

 

Here’s my list for this year:

  • carrots
  • courgettes
  • runner beans
  • french beans
  • potatoes
  • cauliflower
  • sprouting broccoli
  • sprouts
  • lettuce
  • radish
  • kohl rabi
  • pumpkins
  • parsnips
  • tomatoes
  • chillies
  • spinach
  • leeks

I’m not going completely ‘straight’ when it comes to plant varieties this year, there’ll definitely be some purple carrots thrown into the mix and my one experiment is going to be with ‘flower sprouts‘ which we’ve had from the supermarket a few times and they’re very tasty! I’m also going to make an effort to grow from seed as much as possible, rather than buying plug plants.

Here’s my planting plan for 2016:

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The other thing I love about the Growveg app is the fact that you get a ‘cheat sheet’ (my terminology not theirs!) giving you rough planting and harvesting times! Of course you need to refer to the specific growing instructions for whatever varieties you’re planting, but it’s a handy place to start!

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Creating a Fruit Garden

When we bought our derelict house and overgrown garden in August 2013 we had no idea of the amount of land we had, and definitely didn’t realise that we had at least 20ft of space at the side of the house!

Side of the house and back door
This is all we could see of the side of the property when we bought the house!

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Introducing Chickens to the Garden

We’ve been looking forward to having a small flock of chickens for several years now, so this was an essential part of the plan when we designed our vegetable garden!

After doing a lot of research on the numerous houses that are available, I settled on this one that we built and painted ourselves so it was inkeeping with the look of our cottage garden.

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We sited the chickens at the back of the garden so they were away from our neighbours and we could allow them a large run, but as this is right against the field that borders our property, we spent a lot of time and effort to make sure the run and house were as ‘predator proof’ as possible.

We dug a trench around the boundary of their pen and lined it with bricks that had come from our house renovation. The chicken house itself is placed on slabs to keep it level and we surrounded the base with chicken wire too so Mr Fox couldn’t sneak underneath the house!

IMG_7148 IMG_7167 IMG_7069A local timber yard made us the individual panels for the chicken run, which we then constructed and painted to match the house!

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We created a dust bath area from the base of an old wheelbarrow that had finally given up on us during the renovations, which the chickens are very pleased with!

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Generally chicken runs are 6ft high to give humans room to move around when cleaning etc. but we didn’t want it to encroach on our views of the surrounding fields – after a year of scrambling around in the pen, I’m not sure if Richard still thinks this was a good idea!

Finally…

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100 Happy Days of Eating from the Garden

As soon as our vegetable garden was up and running in 2014, I set us the challenge of trying to eat something from the garden for 100 days before the end of the year, and I’m pleased to say we achieved that goal!

I recorded the challenge by posting a photo of what we ate or something relating to it every day (on Christmas Day it had to be a photo of Rich clearing the dishes in his party hat, as I forgot to photograph the brussels sprouts before we ate!)

I’m pretty proud of what we achieved in those 100 days, it taught me a lot about eating with the seasons and planning meals around what we had available rather than relying on the ‘oh so convenient’ supermarket shelves, so here’s an overview of some of the photos I posted!

To see the whole 100 days, as well as all my other Instagram content, follow me at @pickleshlee – hope to see you there!

#100happydays #day2 cauliflower rice using cauliflower and carrots from the garden ☺️ #goodlife

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First eggs were a triumph! 2 double yolkers in the first batch! #100happydays #day7

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#100happydays of eating from the garden #day13 strawberries and mint for my Pimms! Happy Friday everyone! X

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#100happydays of eating from the garden #day75 pumpkin and rosemary risotto! #growyourown

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