Chris is Director of Landcare Solutions and the highly popular Great Gardens program that has developed and delivered free sustainable gardening workshop to over 65,000 people in WA. Chris is a regular presenter on ABC local radio and he also specializes in programs and workshops that help people develop energy wise homes and sustainable rural properties.
Gardening for kids
I know it sounds a bit corny but kids really are our future and so our fate and the health of this planet really is in their hands. I also firmly believe that we only protect and enhance what we know and love and so if the next generation are not connected with and ‘in love’ with nature then we will not see the necessary actions and support to keep a healthy and vibrant earth. Getting kids out and into the garden is obviously a vital first step in this journey and so any actions to get them out and gardening are not only going to help them connect with nature but hopefully develop that all important love and respect for the joys and inspiration that nature can provide.
Top five plants for shady kids gardens
- Dianella revoluta – Flax Lilly A lovely soft, strappy leaf plant with beautiful small yellow and purple flowers. Tough as old boots and grows well in shade or full sun.
- Dianella caerula – Flax Lilly A variation on the local Dianella with soft lime green pendulous leaves that give it a tropical garden feel. Once again its super tough and thrives in shady areas.
- Hibbertia scandens – Snake Vine This is a beautiful creeper, climber or low shrub with glossy green leaves and wonderful showy yellow flowers. Does well in all areas of the garden in full sun or shade. Super tough and super adaptable.
- Hardenbergia comptoniana – Native Wistera One of my favorites. This vigorous climber sets the world alight in spring with its dazzling display of deep purple flowers. Is very very fast and can quickly cover a wall so awesome for cooling areas that get hit by the summer sun.
- Kennedia prostrata – Running postman A beautiful ground cover with bright red flowers. Super tough and a wonder for reclaiming sandy areas and a must for any waterwise verge makeover.
Top 5 veggies to grow with your kids
These are all really easy to grow, very forgiving, fast and will yield wonderful and popular foods kids love to eat
- Potatoes What would a vegie garden be like without 'Tatetoes'! There are many varieties but all should go in the ground now and all are really really easy to grow. Just feed the soil with good compost and bury them 10-15cm deep and watch them burst to life!
- Silver Beet A great green for salads and asian cooking, this plant grows really quickly and is virtually pest free so it makes a hassle free addition to your vegie bed.
- Snow Peas Not only do these guys give us beautiful peas to eat but they are super fast, can climb up pretty much anything and being legumes they 'feed' the soil as well. Plant the seedlings in good quality compost and watch them fly!
- Lettuce One of my favorites and so easy to grow. Put them in good soil and within a few weeks you will be snipping your own leaves for your nightly salad! They have few pests and disease to worry about and so once again they make a great low maintenance vegie addition.
- Corn I love growing corn. Put them in good soil and in a short period they will burst to life and pretty soon you will be craning your neck skyward to watch their progress as they tower over you. Nothing beats gathering your own corn cobs and if you keep these and all your other garden vegie plants with good water supplies you can be feasting within a couple of months.
Remember vegie plants need great conditions to be great plants so
- Feed the soil with awesome compost.
- Use a good slow release organic fertiliser.
- Give them regular drenches with fish and seaweed solution.
- Give them a nice layer of mulch and watering 2-3 times a week and lookout!
You will be commander of your own amazing food growing reserve. Good Luck!