It's all about herbs and fruit this week at Pig Row, time to sort out the herb garden and net the soft fruit and check out the orchard growth. However, today we have a small boy some coriander, dill, and Italian parsley to sow. Many people think kids and gardening don't mix but the simple fact is that we all start somewhere and if you give a kid a lawnmower at six they're going to hate you by the time they're sixteen. Think small, think things that they will find fun, think pots, ponds and potatoes. Let's face facts if you sow tiny seed in tiny hands then you're going end up with a large sneeze.
Little D has been gardening with large seeds for three years, he loves growing sunflowers, finds sowing beans a doddle and is now graduating to finer seed. Yes, we are teaching him pinch sowing. For those of you with puzzled faces now, we'll show you what we mean. Cup your hand ready.
Getting a child to cup their hand is half the struggle, you show them and still they have a flat hand or even worse forget the seed is there and scratch their knees, cheeks or brush their hair back and gone is the seed, or they sneeze, in their hand. Yes, that was how the idea of sowing seed in wallpaper paste was invented, a small child, a sudden sneeze and now we buy parsnip seeds in a tube of snot. However, if they have gone through the big seed process of beans, peas and potatoes then they know that seed can easily roll away and that cupped hand is ready. The idea is not to be too prescriptive, or angry when things go wrong, hence pots. Pots are great for kids, if things go wrong they can pop a plant in it, if things go right they will watch that pot everyday, every hour, every minute for any sign of growth, disease or bugs. Never underestimate the blind devotion a child will give to seed that they have sowed and growed. Little D now has enough dexterity to understand the pinch sowing method. Which is simply:
1) Take a cupped hand full of seed.
2) With your free hand take a pinch of that seed, and;
3) Sow thinly across the pots surface. You don't want to drop the whole load in one movement, you are sprinkling a garnish across the pot.
We could then use a sieve to cover all the seed but frankly most sieves are way too big for kids and the ones they make for kids are bloody expensive. Never underestimate how useful another pot is as a sieve, easy for a child to fill and when they crack the shaking back and forth they'll make sure that the seed sowed is thoroughly covered. Also, if they drop it, break it or toss it over the garden fence in a fit of frantic sieving, you can reach for another pot.
Finally, all you need to do is label and perform Little D's favourite job, watering.
Then the new pots are by the front door, sheltered but more importantly can be inspected before and after school. That's the key with kids, to have wherever they are gardening in their path everyday. If you give a child a corner in your garden and that corner is hidden from everything, they'll forget it. Heck, you'd forget it.