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Grow at Home: Lockdown 3 homeschooling ideas - Gardening in Winter with kids

Written by Sarah Talbot

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Posted on 11 January 2021

Lockdown 1 'created' 3 million new gardeners.  And if there is one positive of this whole situation this, and the chance to take time and grow things as a family has to be it. Its not just rose tinted glasses - the sun really did shine in Lockdown 1. kids all over the UK watched their sunflowers tower above them and stole cherry tomatoes and cucamelons from the vine.  But its not as warm now so is gardening still an option? 

Answer: YES! (you knew I'd say that didn't you?!)

Winter is actually a great time to get kids involved. They will just need a little more patience as some of what you will be planting will be for Spring. There are plenty of little jobs to keep them going though. 

Garden Jobs

growing_in_winter_boy_with_watering_can_watering_plants

Below you will see lots of things that you can plant over winter. The list is not exhaustive but it should be enough to kick start your 2021 patch. But added to this there are other tasks that have to carry on.

Digging & Weeding

Unless you are "No Dig" then your plot will need some prep for Spring.  Dig it over and add soil improver or well rotten manure to give your plants the best chance. 

Your overwintering veg needs to contend with the weather. It shouldn't have to compete with weeds too though. So it is good to get your little (or not so little) one to regularly weed their bit of the patch so the nasty weeds don't take over. Caution: you may need to help them understand what is weed so that all your spring onions aren't accidentally weeded out!

Watering

Even though it can be wet there may be times that you need to water too. Especially when you are growing in containers. Get them their own appropriately sized watering can and they one can help with this.

Planning

If the weather is bad and you really can't get out then planning your planting is a great way to keep kids involved. They can look over seed catalogues and pick out what they would like to grow then make drawings or collages of the plot and how it will look. Maybe imagine how a little raised bed all of their own will be planted.

Build a Bug Hotel

Bugs are always fascinating so use twigs and things from around the garden to make your own little bug hotel. Hours of fun, catching bugs and helping them move in, then counting and identifying which bugs have made their home there.

Look after the Wildlife

Wildlife is part of the garden's ecosystem so look after the birds by giving them food and water over the winter. And they will return to eat the caterpillars from your plants in the Spring and Summer. You could even put up bird boxes and make a hedgehog house if you have the time and space. 

Veg that Grow in Winter

Rootrainers with winter veg seeds growing your own food for Lockdown 3 homeschooling ideas

There is no reason not to start planting veg now but don't get too carried away.  There are lots of veg that can be planted over the next month but they need light and warmth to thrive.  So, if you don't have masses of space then less is more this early in the season.  Best to assess the window sill space you have and pick your favourite two veg from the list and maybe start there.  

Be careful choosing your seeds too.  Some crops like carrots and turnips have early and late varieties.  You need the early varieties that have been bred to thrive in colder conditions.  A quick check of the recommended planting month on the packet will vastly reduce failed sowings.    

So on to what you can plant - click through for instruction.  

Broad Beans Sweet peas
Lettuce & Winter Salads Spinach
Basil Turnips
Early Carrots Chillies & Peppers
Peppers Salad onions

As well as traditional veg like these you can also have a go at a couple of more unusual crops... 

Microgreens

This is an indoor growing activity that could get your kids trying all sorts of veg (without knowing it!) You can grow most veg such as beetroot, peas, rocket, cress, broccoli, chard, cauliflower, cabbage. You just eat them when they are very young sprinkled on sandwiches, pasta, soup etc. It is a great one to balance all the waiting for things to sprout in Spring as they are ready to eat in a few weeks. 

Top £$£ Saving Tip: microgreens seeds come in packs of 100s of seeds as you need quite a few of them. They cost about the same as regular seed packets though so are much cheaper 'per seed'. They are the same seeds you would get in the regular packets though so keep a few to fill your veg garden too. You can read about it here Grow at Home: nutritious Microgreens or see the mats in action over on our YouTube Channel Microgreens Growing Mats 

Mushrooms

What could be more fun than growing Mushrooms? Do these at any time over the winter - just find a spot where they aren't going to dry out and you are away. There are several ways to grow them which are all covered in this blog so take a look if you fancy your own mushroom farm Grow at Home: Mushrooms.

Trees

You could even think big and grow a tree! Trees grow in winter so take an apple pip, an acorn or a horse chestnut and plant them in a little pot. They will be fine outside as they need the cold to germinate. Or buy a bare root tree from your Garden Centre and plant it.  

Left Overs
carrot_tops_growing_in_winter_from_leftovers

If you want a low cost way to keep your gardening going during winter then you can start to grow veg from your left overs. (surely ticks the science homeschooling box too?!)

Place cut carrot tops in a shallow dish of water and they will sprout - you can use the tops as fresh carrot flavoured leaves for salads and soups. You could also regrow lettuce and celery from the base in the same way. 

What did you do?

So, there are plenty of things that you can add to the more boring home schooling.  I hope this has inspired you.

This blog was produced as a direct result of a request from one of our Instagram followers @shedsews so if you have an idea for a blog or a gardening subject that is really puzzling you then do let us know. We would also love to hear what you will try to grow in winter - whether it is one of the ideas here or something of your own. Please comment or tag Haxnicks in your picture so we can see what worked and share it with others!

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