Plastic-Free Summer Gardening with Kids

Low-cost ideas for summer gardening for kids

Gardening involves all the senses, so it’s no surprise that we can have such strong childhood memories of messing about with plants and getting our hands muddy in the dirt (we’re guilty of making a few ‘potions’ and mud pies back in the day – and coco coir makes things easy!). Setting up some outdoor and indoor projects for summer gardening with the kids is a great way to fill up time during the holidays without stressing mum and dad. Here’s how to make your projects fun and educational, whatever size of garden you have.

Edible excitement

Nothing beats eating something straight after you’ve picked it! How many of us have fond memories of visiting farms or the end of gran’s garden to pick some delicious fruits during the warmer months? Planting up cherry tomatoes and strawberry plants in Coco Boost makes for a wonderful project for the summer that can provide entertainment year on year. Or what about runner bean tepees to double as food and a den? Kids will find endless ways to use their imagination when gardening, so get your thinking cap on – anything you grow can be a fun adventure!

Top tip: Children want immediate gratification. So after planting up, hide a tub of the final produce sourced from shop-bought fruit or veg. Then you can play a game of ‘Hot or Cold’ where their reward is to find and eat the hidden treasure.

Are there fairies at the bottom of your garden?

If you don’t have much room, your child could build a miniature garden in just one pot. Think doll houses but for gardening, also known as ‘fairy gardens’. They’re a great introduction to gardening your little ones can have much more input on, creating their own ‘full-sized’ garden in a miniature space. But you need to think small with the planting to avoid overcrowding, so use plants such as:

• Alpines
• Succulents – ‘hen and chicken’ sedums are very tactile and will easily regrow
• Mint – Corsican is a good variety
• Thyme – woolly and creeping thyme work really well in small pots.

Coco coir pot cuteness

It’s important not only to supervise your children’s activities so they stay safe, but also to scale everything down to be manageable for small hands. Our smallest biodegradable coco coir pots are just 6cm wide. Once it’s time to pot on, you can just plant all of it in one go. Less hassle, less messing about and more chance of the seedling surviving the heavy-handed attention of little fingers!

Here are some seeds you can still plant and grow in June, July and even August, depending how warm it is where you live and how mild the summer has been:

• Carrots
• Cut and come again miniature lettuce
• French beans
• Mustard / cress seeds – you can even just grow them inside on damp newspaper. If you add them to papier mâché project, they look like miniature palm trees.
• Nasturtium flowers – they’re edible too!
• Radishes
• Runner beans
• Sunflowers – why not have a competition to see whose will grow the tallest?

Creating cribs for creepy crawlies

Children love to shove small things into bizarre places around the house. We know someone whose son ‘posted’ her phone into a water butt! So put this skill to good use by getting them to build bug hotels. Here’s one suggestion for building a bug’s answer to the Hilton:

1. Find a container that is open at both ends – a toilet roll works perfectly
2. Cut up bamboo canes to the container’s length
3. Give the cane sections a quick sand with sandpaper to avoid splinters
4. Task your child with squeezing as many canes into the container as possible
5. Decorate with a hotel sign created with paint / nail varnish on a pebble

No containers? Ask them to bundle the canes together and tie them up with twine – and you’re done! You’ll have guests buzzing to visit your little hotel in no time.

Want even more inspiration to build your bug hotel empire? Check out:

How to build a bug hotel by the Woodland Trust

Build a bug hotel by the RSPB

Build a bug hotel Canadian style

Den building

Making dens is really good fun that makes for hours of entertainment with your kids and their friends.

Inside: pick a corner of the house and build a wall of houseplants across it to make a ‘jungle’ to hide behind. Just watch out for any spikey leaves. Add some pillows and some fairy lights for a bit of extra comfort and it’s ready for tea and biscuits.

Outside: Pots are good here too. As are any branches or twigs that you’ve pruned. Try to hold back your adult instinct to make it look tidy. It’s all about letting children create their own space for their imagination to run riot.

Watering wonderland

Children love to help with watering, even if more of it can go on the leaves and their clothes than on the soil!

To avoid over-enthusiastic drenching, why not help them upcycle their own watering can out of a plastic bottle? By only punching a limited number of small holes, you can limit how much water comes out. Check out lots of great DIY Watering Can Ideas.

Keep it short and sweet

Remember, you might be ready to roll up your sleeves for a whole morning of gardening. But little ones get bored easily. To keep them interested, build in some play time. And snacks. Lots of snacks. Good luck!

Tips from the ‘Green Gardeners Guild’ online advice library

On the lookout for more tips and hints? Our blogs are brimming over with advice:

Get children gardening

How to grow vegetables in coco coir peat

Using toilet roll tubes for planting

Summer gardening with kids? Share your projects!

Launched a skyscraper of a bug hotel? Or designed a dinky upcycled watering can? Let us know!
Please post your pictures and tag @cocoandcoir on Instagram. We’ll credit you for any images we use. You’ll also be in with a chance to win some Coco & Coir goodies for your sustainable garden.