BRIAN KIDD: Get the children in your life to do the hard work

It's amazing what you can achieve with a broom handle, a pinch of seed and... children.
It's amazing what you can achieve with a broom handle, a pinch of seed and... children.
Curly and twisted carrots. 

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This week’s article is inspired by an enjoyable visit by Rebecca and David our teenaged grandchildren.

We all had a good laugh about events at my allotment when they were little and how they sowed seeds which would germinate quickly.

Give the children a broom handle...

When they went home I went to the allotment and saw one of the plot-holders had sown larkspur seeds and there was a row of magnificent blooms in full flower.

Serendipity! Another good reason for today’s column which I hope you’ll enjoy and have a go, even if you don’t have children in your life.

I know the children have gone back to school but this weekend they can help you in the garden and plant hardy annual seeds.

Remember, children like to see things happen quickly, but this will give them something to look forward to as we’re going to plant hardy annual flower seeds at the lowest possible cost.

Hardy annuals are plants sown now to flower next summer. They will give a carpet of colour for many weeks and are often called cottage garden plants.

Dig a border to the depth of a garden fork. Now rake the area to a depth of four inches. Use the rake to make the soil fine and then apply a dressing of fish, blood and bone fertiliser using two ounces per square yard. Rake again to ensure the fertiliser is mixed into the top four inches of soil.

Now for the fun bit...

Give the children a broom handle and ask them to make jigsaw puzzle shapes by pushing the tips of the broom handle into the border and dragging it around.

Encourage them to imagine how the colours will look. Show them pictures of the flowers and ask them to look at the heights of the blooms. The youngsters will need some practice, but if it goes wrong simply rake over the soil and start again, laughing all the time. This will cause arguments but if you don’t have the amazing experience of grandchildren go to the next step...

Hardy annuals which can be sown now for flowers next summer are larkspur; pot marigolds which have the botanical name calendula because they flower every month; godetia; love-in-a-mist, and cornflowers. There are lots of others and a seed catalogue will help you find them.

The soil has been raked, fertiliser raked in and areas ‘drawn’.

Now sow the seeds – little pinches about four inches apart in the defined areas. Now water the border.

In three weeks there will be a mass of growth including weeds. If some of the flower seed doesn’t germinate, thin out some of those which have been successful to fill any gaps.

Wait another fortnight and remove the weeds. You will see the weeds are all the same over the whole bed but the flowers have their own type of foliage. This is where children help. Just show them the weeds and... they will want an ice cream!

TIP OF THE WEEK

If you have forget-me-not seedlings invading the garden, dig them all out and put them all together in one border planted five inches apart.

As you have now saved some money, treat yourself to some pink tulips and plant them between the forget-me-nots for a tasteful display next spring.