Anita Morton - Growing Gardens

Im bored, Mum!

Ah, yes, the holidays wonderful for a few weeks, but starting to drag a bit now. If youre supervising some little darlings over summer your garden can be a rich source of boredom-busting activities. As always, the best fun involves mess, so the garden is the ideal setting.

Children from toddlers up to the BMX set will get great value from a simple pile of dirt. Not sand, which doesnt have enough cohesiveness for tunnelling and making ramps. Youll need a couple of cubic metres of garden soil, access to water and buckets, old cups etc. If skateboards are the thing, add a plank.

Kids who are learning to write their own name will enjoy growing it too. Mark out an area sufficient to make the letters at least 12cm high for clarity and scratch the name with a stick. Mix seeds of a quick-growing plant like radishes or mustard with contrasting sand and dribble it into the scratches. Water carefully with a fine spray.

Kids might like to grow a cubby. Train climbing beans up bamboo canes to create a V-shaped tunnel, or plant a grove of sunflowers or Jerusalem artichokes with a space in the middle. You might have to help it along a bit with stakes and string, or the judicious use of secateurs.

Terrariums are useful projects for a wet day. Youll need an old fish tank, some charcoal, sand, potting mix and some small plants like ferns and African violets. Decorating plant pots is also good indoor fun use acrylics and seal the finished masterpiece when dry with Estapol. Once the weathers fine, send the kids out on a backyard safari, collecting insects to look at with the magnifying glass. All that should keep them occupied for at least two hours!

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