Get set for spring!
Summer might be over, but don’t let it stop you getting out in the garden with the kids. Planting bulbs is a brilliant autumn activity for little-ones. Even young toddlers can handle them easily, and they’re practically fail-safe. If you want a pretty spring display without spending a small fortune, plant them in pots rather than direct into the ground. You can make a bigger impact with fewer bulbs this way. And pots of compost are easier and more fun for children to deal with than digging in heavy soil. There aren’t many rules when it comes to bulbs. Some people are very precise about how deep to plant them and how far apart they should be. But the only important thing to remember is to plant them pointy-side-up. I shouldn’t think it matters much if one or two go in pointy-side-down though. It might take the shoots a little longer to work out which way is up, but they’d probably get there in the end. Anyway, it’s better to have a few upside down bulbs than to micromanage your young gardener, or redo all their work. A few tips… If bulbs get too wet for too long they can rot. But you can put something in the bottom of your pot to improve the drainage. A bit of gravel or a few pebbles would do the trick, and I’ve never met a small child who didn’t like picking up stones. Some bulbs can irritate the skin, so it’s best to wear gloves when planting them. Kiddie gardening gloves are great, but if your child has very small hands they might be a bit cumbersome. When my daughter was really little she got on much better with magic gloves; in their un-stretched state they’re just right for teeny-tiny fingers. Try to cram as many bulbs in as possible. It will look much more impressive once they flower and as long as they aren’t touching each other they’ll be fine. Planting them in layers with 1 or 2cm of compost between each level can work well. Bulbs are the ultimate in low maintenance gardening. Once planted, leave them somewhere outside and give them an occasional drink if they get dry. If there are lots of squirrels in your area, it’s a good idea to cover them until the shoots have appeared. Otherwise you might find they’ve been dug up and stashed away in a random corner. Most garden centres and home ware stores will be stocking bulbs throughout the autumn – so grab a few daffodils, tulips or hyacinths and get growing! Recently nominated for ‘Best New Blog’ in the MADS awards 2014, Mary and her family are set to embark on a journey in the garden, covering a number of subject areas including hints and tips on growing flowers and vegetables, suggestions for small gardens, and advice-led ideas for involving children in the garden using Twigz Gardening Tools. You can find out more about Mary and her garden at www.brookendcottagegarden.com.