Hartley Botanic helps you inspire next generation of greenhouse growers

GREENFIELD-BASED Greenhouse manufacturer Hartley Botanic is sharing its ideas and inspiration for growing with children.

Caring for a plant can lead to a reduction in stress and improved cognitive awareness, and is a way for children to connect with nature where other opportunities may be in short supply.

Their top tips for gardening with your children or grandchildren are:

  • Show the children how to do it, then let them do it. Keep your explanations as simple as possible.
  • The grown-up gardener is there for information and guidance, but when that first tomato appears on the family dinner table, the child should be able to brag that they grew it. And you grew a new gardener!
  • Involve everyone in the planning stages—and listen to what children want.
  • Make some areas active and devote some places to quiet.
  • Give children simple projects, such as planting large seeds; encourage children to check on their growth.
  • Share space in your Greenhouse for children’s creativity — it’s not always about garden work. It’s also about fun.
  • Starting a little area of their own in your Greenhouse can feel very special for children. And as they come back to care for their plants, they will have a goal to work towards and learn about what plants need.

So, if your Greenhouse is overflowing with an abundance of edibles during the summer months, invite your children or grandchildren to help you harvest.

Make it an experience by keeping the door of your Greenhouse shut overnight so it is filled with the sweet smell of tomatoes when children arrive.

And you can help bring the harvest alive for children by asking them to weigh or measure the vegetables, see how many cucumbers measure up to the same height as them, or use the harvest to inspire a drawing for the village show in September.

With watering on the to-do list both at the start and end of your day, now is a good opportunity to talk about its value.

With water in short supply, ‘grey water’ recycled from baths and washbasins can be used if you only use a small amount of detergent but not on edible crops.

Talk about any hosepipe bans in place in your area so children learn that water is a finite resource rather than something which just flows automatically from the tap.

The plants you choose to grow is worth thinking about in advance. Some crops bring results more quickly than others, which can help satiate children’s natural impatience – although patience is an excellent life lesson imparted by the growing process too.

Growing fruit and vegetables are also a clever way to educate children that food doesn’t start its life in the supermarket, and it can help encourage healthy eating.

The best first plants for children are things they can eat. Choose vegetables that will sprout and grow from seed and that don’t have to go through a flowering-and-fruiting process. Choose edible roots, such as radishes or carrots, or leaves, such as lettuce or spinach.

Peanuts have an unusual habit that make them especially interesting to children. As the flowers fade, their stems elongate and arch over, pushing their seed-pods into the soil where they swell and ripen.

Don’t use salted peanuts, buy them fresh from the health food shop. If you grow them in a glass container, like a fish tank, you can see the roots and ripening seeds in the compost. Keep them warm and moist and water with warm water.

Basil is a fast-growing herb that grows very well in pots in a sunny, sheltered spot in the Greenhouse. Grow your plants in 13cm pots and water regularly. Basil has become enormously popular for adding to pizzas and pesto and is a great way for children to consume the herb they had a hand at growing.

Delicate-looking and fast growing coriander is ideal for pot-growing with children. Sow them now and they should be ready for harvest in early autumn. The seeds can be sown directly into the container in which they are to grow, but it will be easier to take care of in the early stages if sown into cell trays and planted once well established. Feed three weeks after potting using a liquid fertiliser and at 10 to 14-day intervals until the seeds start to ripen and make sure their compost doesn’t dry out during the summer months.

Sow French beans in 5″ pots of peat-free multipurpose compost. They will germinate quickly in the Greenhouse, and you will get a late crop in early September. Cover with more compost, water well and place in a propagator or on a warm windowsill in the Greenhouse. It takes 7-10 days for the seedlings to emerge.

If you sowed your first tomato seeds in a propagator in late February, they should be well on their way to flowering and maturity/harvesting. Children can now break off the side shoots where the leaves join the main stem with their finger and thumb so the tomato plant grows straight and tall. Put the side shoots in a glass of water and watch the roots grow. Plant them in pots and you will get a small harvest before autumn.  Go into the Greenhouse and tap the open flowers, to help the bees make tomatoes.

And here are a few more fun ideas in the garden:

  • Create an engaging scavenger hunt around the garden with tasks for children to accomplish. Some examples of things they can search for include a flower bud, leaves longer than their fingers, a plant the colour of their shirts and more. Snap photos along the way and add them to their garden journal to extend the learning once you’re back inside.
  • Create a garden journal: Let children pick out a notebook to record what they do in the garden each time they visit. Encourage them to draw pictures of the plants as they are growing to track their growth.

For children, a Greenhouse can be a treasure trove of new things to learn about, look at and explore, and it can be a powerful way to build unique and lasting memories.

And you never know, your grandchildren may very well inherit your Hartley Botanic. Hartley Botanic are regularly contacted by customers who have decades-old Greenhouses which are still providing excellent service, including those that have been dismantled and reinstalled.

The company offers a 30-year lifetime guarantee covering both the structure and installation of its Greenhouses and Glasshouses (subject to terms and conditions).

Hartley Botanic was founded in 1938 by brothers Vincent and Norman Hartley following their ground-breaking aluminium Greenhouse design.

The English manufacturer has been making beautiful and elegant handmade, made-to-order horticultural buildings for 85 years from its original factory in Greenfield.

It is the manufacturer of choice for leading organisations, institutions and designers with Hartley Botanic structures commissioned by the RHS, the National Trust, Kew Gardens, Glasgow Botanic Gardens, Massachusetts Horticultural Society and Oxford Botanical Gardens, to name a few. Its entire product range is endorsed by the Royal Horticultural Society.

Find out more online www.hartley-botanic.co.uk or call 01457 819 155.

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