Gardening with kids
Germinating beans with cotton wool, water and a bit of sunshine is a classic project for budding horticulturalists. It’s an especially appealing activity for younger children thanks to how quickly the bean grows.
You will need
* Dried beans (broad beans, sugar beans and butter beans will all work well)
* Cotton wool
* A glass container
* A sunny windowsill
* Place a layer of cotton wool in the bottom of a small Mason jar or other clear glass container.
* Slip your dried beans in on the sides so that kids can have a clear view of the day-to-day changes.
* Place another thin layer of cotton wool on top of the beans and gently press down.
* Wet – but do not soak – the cotton wool
* Place on a sunny windowsill and wait for the magic to happen. The beans should start to germinate after about three days.
Water the cotton as and when it feels dry to the touch.
* When the sprouts are around 20cm tall they can be transferred, cotton wool included, to a planter or into the ground.
* Beans love to climb: support them on a beanpole, trellis or bamboo or wooden frames.
2. Let children observe the magic of a how a cutting grows its roots – a quick way to propagate plants for free and a valuable lesson in caring for appreciating just how awesome nature really is.
You will need
* A sterilised medium-sized glass bottle.
* Cuttings from healthy plants that will root easily without nursery-bought rooting hormones. Try species such as African violet, geranium, mint, wandering Jew, impatiens, philodendron and spekboom (indigenous to South Africa).
* Help your kids cut a three to six-inch section of stem from a healthy-looking plant by making a clean, angled snip above a leaf node.
* Let them remove leaves from the bottom 1/3 or half of the cutting so you are left with a bare stalk and a few leaves on the top section.
* Put the cutting in the bottle of water, submerging only the leafless stem.
* Place the bottle in a place that gets partial sunlight and that is neither too hot or cold.
* Once the roots are several inches long the cutting is ready to transplant into soil.
Keep the water topped up and replace once a week or sooner if it becomes cloudy.
Let the kids feel like mini scientists by displaying their cuttings in test tube vases or beakers.
Upcycled chutney, ketchup and glass soda bottles filled with cuttings, displayed en masse from a metal frame, will create an eye-catching decorative element