DIY with kids: Container gardening

Self-isolation is not easy – but if social media posts in South Africa’s first few weeks of self-isolation are anything to go by, parents are bearing the brunt of the pain, with bored kids getting up to the craziest of misdeeds. Dozens of precious rolls of toilet paper dumped in a drawn bath, toddlers spreading tubs of margarine or makeup all over them…. the list will no doubt go on.

Lasher Tools offer these useful tips and pointers on how to keep your kids proactively occupied with fun gardening activities.

The benefits of gardening are well known: getting to know the environment and its ecology and, best of all, growing food you can take from the garden to your plate. You don’t need large grounds – or even a garden – to grow your nutritious herbs and veggies; flat dwellers can easily make do with window planters.

We opted for repurposed tin cans – not only because recycling makes sense, but also because these will no doubt be in abundance now, too. Even better, you can spend another fun day decorating the cans ahead of planting.

What you need

  • tin cans
  • hammer and nail
  • potting soil
  • selected seeds or cuttings

Before you start

Select the herbs, veggies or flowers you wish to plant. You could also propagate your existing plants by growing from cuttings. For this, you’d need some time for roots to develop. Most herbs and succulents are easy to propagate; soft-stemmed herbs will root within days, while offshoots of succulents can be planted directly into the soil.

Decide how you’d like to decorate the can, if at all: you can paint, decoupage or simply glue your favourite images or quotes, or coloured glass beads for extra sparkle.

Step 1
Clean and prepare cans. If you’ve decorated them, ensure they’re dried before you plant. Once ready, upend the tin and use a nail to hammer out a few holes; three to six should be adequate, depending on nail size.

Step 2
Line the can with a handful of small stones or crocking (broken pottery pieces), smashed small enough to fit easily. These will help ensure good drainage. Fill the can loosely with potting soil; pat down lightly, then water the soil and drain.

Step 3
Create a well/depression in the centre of the soil large enough to contain the cutting and roots. Secure the roots and stem by covering with soil, and tamping it down. It’s important to ensure the soil is compact enough to release any air bubbles, but not too tightly packed to affect drainage.

If you’re planting seeds, poke a few holes equidistant from each other, drop the seeds in, and cover with a light layer of soil.

Step 4
Top with mulch, water well, drain and place on a sunny windowsill.
<TIP> What to plant? Fast-growing vegetables like salad leaves, cherry tomatoes, peas, beans and herbs are quick growers that can all be grown in cans, planters, tubs or even straight in the garden. Note: climbing plants such as tomatoes, peas and beans will soon need some support.
Did you know? You can easily grow wholesome goodness in your home, too: avocadoes are not only highly nutritious and delicious; they also fare well indoors, as do citrus trees like lemon, lime and orange.
<PLUS> Other useful gardening-related activities to keep kids busy

• Make plant markers
Remember which seeds which were sewn where, by labelling them: a chopstick stuck directly in the pot or planter can do the trick, either with a self-adhesive label, or get your kids to make their own by colouring a piece of paper or cardboard, and drawing cute figures or symbols alongside the name of your plant.
• Paint stones
These can brighten your pathway; serve as attractive doorstops or to add interesting detail to the tin cans on your windowsill.
• Make bird feeders
Another fun activity is to plan a scavenger hunt in your garden for anything that can serve as a birdfeeder: hollowed out stones, repurposed 2L milk or soft drink bottles, an old tin plate with holes hammered in the sides to thread rope and hang from a tree… the list here, too, is endless.