Children love going in to the greenhouse so it‘s important to have things for them to do that will keep their interest up. Here are some easy steps to follow:
1. Safety First: Round any chemicals and sprays you have in the greenhouse and keep them all in a tray or box. This way they can be kept out of reach on a shelf or at the back of a bench. Explain to children what they are for and why they are harmful and not to be touched by them.
2. Space is usually at a premium in a greenhouse but try and give children at least a small tray of their own which they can sit pots on they have planted up themselves.
3. When you are checking the greenhouse at either ends of the day, try to encourage children to come along for a short visit, they‘ll get used to observing small changes.
4. Children love fiddling about with small things: try a small collection of sempervivens (house leeks) in the greenhouse: allow children to divide the rosettes and pot them into little plastic pots. Eventually they will bulk up again.
5. Other good ‘mini‘ plants for children in the greenhouse are succulents, living stones (lithops), and cacti, which can be grown from seed. Don‘t forget carnivorous plants also have their attraction for children.
6. Most children love tomatoes and cucumbers. Get them involved in your choice for the greenhouse then ask them to plant the seed and help with maintenance and watering.
7. Don‘t forget to grow some marigolds with children to keep in the greenhouse. Their smell is said to help keep whitefly off your tomatoes.
8. Lettuces can be grown all year round in the greenhouse in a variety of containers (polystyrene boxes can be painted by children). Children may also like to plant radishes under glass.
9. Some varieties of climbing French bean such as ‘Helda‘ can be grown in a greenhouse. Get children to plant the seeds and later harvest them.
10. Buy some large plastic pots with holes in so that you can force some new potatoes in the greenhouse early in the season. The same buckets can be used by children to plant specially chilled potatoes in August that will be ready to harvest at Christmas.
11. Sunflowers are a must for children. Start them off in the greenhouse in early spring and make sure you have enough of them. Giant pumpkins are another favourite – don‘t be tempted to put them out too early, keep them in the greenhouse till the soil and the days are nice and warm.
12. Get children to put up a sticky yellow pad and explain how they trap whitefly and other pests. Explain why various pests and diseases that strike in a greenhouse, keep a small notebook and bug box with a magnifying glass on a shelf. You can capture and look at a pest there and then.