In celebration of NCGW, our Head of Organic Horticulture Chris Collins offers a novel way for nature-loving youngsters to take part –whether they have a garden or not.
Chris Collins’s mini allotment project (instructions below) is not only great for creating an eye-catching display and teaching children about growing in real-time, but it also generates your own supply of edible crops – perfect for sandwiches and salads.
How to create your miniature allotment
You will need;
- A large tray/container or a number of small ones – old supermarket vegetable containers are perfect.
- Peat-free compost
- Seeds of your choice! For example:
Purple sprouting broccoli
- Labels for your seeds – ice lolly sticks work brilliantly
- Tamper and sieve (optional)
- Water sprayer (an old household spray bottle, well-rinsed, does the job)
- Items to decorate. For example pebbles, pine cones, and colouring pens
See how much you can save or reuse from your household recycling for the most sustainable tiny tray allotment.
- Fill your tray three-quarters full with compost
- Sprinkle your seeds onto the soil surface
- Sieve some compost, cover your seeds lightly, and carefully firm down (with a tamper if you like)
- Add some texture to your allotment e.g., with pine cones and pebbles. You could also create a mini gravel ‘pathway'. This is your chance to get creative and make it your own
- Another option is to cover one section of your tray allotment with a thick layer of dried peas for delicious pea shoots. Cover this with a 1cm layer of compost and carefully firm down
- Label the mini allotment areas with crop names and sowing dates
- Use your water sprayer to give everything a good soak. (I don’t recommend a watering can as this can drown everything). If your tray has holes in the bottom just make sure you sit it on a watertight tray before watering!
- The most important step - have fun! Decorate your mini allotment with bright pens; add your own creative touch with eye-catching pebbles, shells, or even fairies! Why not try crafting a mini scarecrow!?
Tips for looking after your tiny-tray allotment
- Keep the tray on a bright windowsill
- Spray your seedlings daily with a water sprayer. You’re aiming for damp, not soaked
- Re-sow as required
- With some good looking after, you should be able to keep your mini allotment going from spring through to the autumn
Tips for harvesting your mini crops
You’ll know when they’re ready as your whole tray will be a carpet of greenery and leaves
- Use scissors to gently crop seedlings or leaves
- Some seeds e.g., spinach and dried peas will regrow after two or three cuts before you need to sow again
Once you’ve created your unique mini allotment you can enjoy watching your greens grow and tasting your home-grown produce. It’s amazing what you can grow on your windowsill at home.
You'll find lots of other activities here to keep the kids entertained throughout National Children's Gardening Week