Ideas to get the kids in the garden with Lee Connelly

by Lauren Abbott

As the weather warms up, it's time to don coats and wellies and fire up the imagination to encourage your kids to get into the garden, with fun projects to stimulate their interest.

Podcaster, former Blue Peter gardener and RHS social media host Lee Connelly, known as the 'Skinny Jean Gardener', is creating a children's garden at this year's Ideal Home Show.

"A study by the National Trust has found that our children nowadays are spending half the amount of time outdoors as we used to when we were younger," says Lee.

Let the kids have their own space in your vegetable bed, garden or allotment
Let the kids have their own space in your vegetable bed, garden or allotment

"Getting outside is all about creating memories as a family. Just getting out there, playing games and stimulating the imagination is what it's all about."

Fancy getting your youngsters outside for some green-fingered fun?

Here, with help from his four-year-old daughter, Olive, Lee offers five tips on how to encourage kids to get off their screens and into the great outdoors...

Lee Connelly - aka the 'Skinny Jean Gardener'
Lee Connelly - aka the 'Skinny Jean Gardener'

1. Give them their own space

Let them have their own patch in your vegetable bed or allotment. If you have limited space, use an old washing-up bowl, putting holes in the base for drainage and then creating a mini-allotment for them. Good crops to plant include salad leaves and other fast-growing vegetables, so they can see the results quickly.

"If you have an allotment, give them their own space to do what they want," says Lee.

"It gives them a sense of responsibility. Just be there for guidance."

Children love sowing runner beans says Lee
Children love sowing runner beans says Lee

2. Encourage them to grow their own

"My daughter didn't used to like eating vegetables much, until she started growing them," says Lee.

"But start them off growing something they like eating, or they won't care about it as much.

"Tomatoes, lettuce and peppers are a good bet. My daughter loves going to our allotment and picking the tomatoes and the strawberries and eating them while we're down there. Pumpkins and runner beans are also good to sow."

There's no better way to occupy the kids at weekends than to get them out in the garden
There's no better way to occupy the kids at weekends than to get them out in the garden

3. Encourage wildlife

Children will be engaged when they see butterflies, beetles and other bugs.

"We have a hedgehog home in our garden and we often see them in the evenings," says Lee.

"Make your own hedgehog home - it's cheap and easy and you can use things you have around the house. Use a plastic box that you can cut holes out of and put up against a fence line. Cover the box with natural materials such as wood. Everything needs to be accessible and easy."

Let the kids get their hands dirty making a wildflower seedball
Let the kids get their hands dirty making a wildflower seedball

4. Make wildflower seedballs

"If your kids like getting messy, this is a lot of fun," he says.

"You get clay, compost, water and wildflower seeds, mix them all together and you make these small wildflower seedballs. Dry them on the windowsill and then find a spare area of the garden, throw the seedballs on there and lots of wildflowers will pop up in the summer, attracting bees and butterflies."

You can also make butterfly fizzy pop by mixing a sugary drink for them. Get a plastic bottle, put a water and sugar mix in the bottle and give it a shake to dilute it, then stuff a sponge into the neck of the bottle and hang it upside down in the garden with string. The sugary mixture will seep through the sponge, creating a magnet for butterflies.

Consider creating your own hedgehog home
Consider creating your own hedgehog home

5. Make a runner bean teepee

Children love to make dens in the garden, but this one could have added interest. Create a wigwam out of bamboo, leaving a space for the entrance. You can then dig a trench around where it needs to be placed, ready to plant runner beans at the end of May or in June.

The beans will grow around the wigwam and provide shelter for the children, as well as some delicious beans. You can move it each year around the garden. Line the floor of the den with bark, gravel or matting for the kids to sit on.

Lee Connelly's children's garden at the Ideal Home Show features ideas from schoolchildren, as well as his own designs.

He will be hosting gardening workshops at the Ideal Home Show, open from March 22 until April 7 at Olympia London. For tickets, see idealhomeshow.co.uk

Share this story

Sorry, comments are not enabled for this article.

Register or log in via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ or your KentOnline account to post comments.

Post Comment

People who post abusive comments about other users or those featured in articles will be banned.
Please click here for our house rules.

Don't have an account? Please Register first!

The KM Group does not moderate comments. Please click here for our house rules.

Thank you. Your comment has been received and will appear on the site shortly.

 

Terms of Comments
We do not actively moderate, monitor or edit contributions to the reader comments but we may intervene and take such action as we think necessary, please click here for our house rules. If you have any concerns over the contents on our site, please either register those concerns using the report abuse button, contact us here, email multimediadesk@thekmgroup.co.uk or call 01634 227989.

Helpful links

© KM Group 2019