No-dig garden beds are perfect for kids to grow plants in. They are easy to build, they can be constructed anywhere at any time and obviously there is no-digging involved so they are physically easy for children to maintain. Little Miss B, hubby and I built two no-dig gardens one afternoon in mid-March and we are already harvesting gorgeous silverbeet and spinach for the spanakopita recipe that Little Miss B loves so much. If you are interested in making a no-dig garden with your children you will need the following supplies:
- Some sort of border to contain the garden e.g. bricks, timber sleepers, large rocks. It is not essential but it does help prevent the contents of your garden being washed away. We used a simple pre-made kit that we bought from a discount variety shop
- Newspaper or cardboard
- Lucerne hay
- Manure (we used a mixture of sheep and cow)
- Straw or sugar cane mulch
- Seedlings (these grow better than seeds in no-dig gardens). Have the kids select which seedlings they would like to grow. If they can take ownership of their garden and what is being grown in it, they will be more likely to eat the produce.
- Garden decorations (optional)
- Choose and prepare an area to build your no-dig garden. Ideally it should get at least 5 hours of sunlight every day. Make sure that your area is reasonably level so that your garden does not get washed away.
- Layout out your border on the ground to make a garden bed. We used a pre-existing garden kit so we didn’t have a choice of shape however if using something like bricks or logs give the kids the opportunity to come up with their own garden design. Who says you need to have a square garden bed? Make a triangle, a circle or even a star! Just make sure they can reach into the middle of the garden to tend to it and harvest their produce. An ideal garden bed for children should measure approximately 1 metre at its widest point.
- If you are building your garden on a hard surface such as concrete, you will need to allow for drainage. To do this, place a layer of sticks or leaves on the ground inside your garden bed to allow for water to drain away.
- Lay a thick layer of newspaper or cardboard inside your garden bed. Make sure it covers the complete area with no gaps. It should be approximately 6cm deep and overlap.
- Spread a 10-20cm layer of lucerne hay across the bed.
- Sprinkle a layer of approximately 2cm of manure over the hay (kids love this bit just make sure they are wearing gloves!)
- Add a 10-20cm layer of straw or sugar cane mulch.
- Sprinkle over another 2cm layer of manure.
- Add a 10cm layer of compost.
- Finish off with another 10cm layer of straw or sugar cane mulch.
- Add some colourful garden decorations.
- Water the whole bed in and it is now ready to go!
- Plant seedlings by gently pulling apart the layers of the garden with your hands and placing the seedling inside the hole before back-filling.
In a few weeks time your kids will be able to pick their produce. Check out our recipes for some simple and nutritious meals that the kids can make with their harvest.