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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Henry’s First Harvest!

We’ve involved our 1 year old, Henry, in the garden as much as possible from a very early age, and now that he’s standing we can do much more with him around the raised beds than ever before!

We always grow our potatoes in buckets, and when it came to harvesting our first main crops, it was only natural that Henry should lead the way!

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Open Farm Sunday at Washingpool Farm

We recently had a holiday in Dorset, staying in a cottage at Washingpool Farm, and by a stroke of good fortune, the first day of our visit coincided with Open Farm Sunday!

This meant we could explore the whole farm that was literally on our doorstep; fantastic for Henry as he loves seeing animals, especially chickens, and great news for me as I was able to explore the farm’s polytunnels and growing fields! It was like vegetable garden heaven!

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Forde Abbey Kitchen Gardens

I’m a sucker for visiting a stately home if they’ve got a working kitchen garden within the grounds!

I loved West Dean Walled Kitchen Garden and Clumber Park is quite close to home (although I don’t visit it as often as I’d like to) so during our recent holiday in Dorset, Forde Abbey was definitely on the list of things to do!

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Asparagus Fail…

We love asparagus and eat quite a lot of it, but let’s be honest – the season is very short and asparagus is best served fresh from the garden, so when we buy it from the supermarket we know it’s not at its best, and it’s probably been flown in from some far-flung location!

So when we designed our vegetable garden it made sense to dedicate one of the raised beds to asparagus, so we could cut it and eat it within minutes, enjoying this delicacy at its finest!

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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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