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Gardening is a fantastic way to get outdoors in the fresh air and to teach little green fingers how to care for plant-life. If you have an allotment or vegetable patch, it will help children to understand where their food comes from and give them the opportunity to eat something healthy and delicious that they have grown from scratch. This week is National Allotments Week, so the team at ACE has pulled together some tips for getting your little ones involved. As for the grubby knees and muddy handprints brought inside, ACE is here to help you remove the stains, but keep the memories of spending time together.

Keep It Simple

Focus on growing just a couple of things at once. The National Allotment Society recommends broad beans, pumpkins, beetroot, onions, garlic bulbs and potatoes for children’s allotments as they have larger seeds or can be grown from established small plants. Opt for vegetables that are low maintenance and grow relatively quickly, such as courgettes, radishes and peas.

Peas will also flower, making the garden look beautiful and you can bring some indoors to brighten up your home with some freshly cut blooms. Choose plants in the allotment that are colourful and smell amazing, giving a more sensory experience. Herbs like mint, thyme and basil smell delicious and are versatile to cook with. Carrots, strawberries and tomatoes will inject some colour, helping you to tick off lots of different vitamins and minerals when it comes to eating them!

Encourage Wildlife, But Keep the Birds At Bay

Although allotments are primarily for growing food, they can also support wildlife. Children love identifying butterflies and bugs, so by dotting some wildlife-friendly plants around the allotment like lavender, sunflowers and nasturtiums they’ll be able to discover more than just gardening. You can create some habitats for wildlife such as a hedgehog home or even a bee hotel.

If you don’t want birds around, get the family together to make your own scarecrow. All you will need is some bamboo canes, string, clothing, straw and your imagination!

1. Tie a 1m cane horizontally against a vertical 2m cane. This ‘crucifix’ shape creates the body and arms.
2. Attach a 30cm cane lower down for hips, then create a head with a ball or some tights stuffed with straw. Tights will be easier to tie to the top of the cane.
3. Pad the frame out with straw, strapping it down with string and get creative with dressing and drawing a face on your scarecrow.
4. Stuff the clothes with straw to pad the body out and make sure everything is secured.

It will be a bit more time-consuming than building a snowman, but your hard work will live for much longer!

Bring Your Produce Indoors

When you successfully grow a crop, make sure it gets brought into the kitchen and used to rustle up something for the family. Fruits can be added to breakfast cereals, smoothies and packed lunches, and vegetables can be chopped up in salads or incorporated into soups, stir fries and all sorts of evening meals. There’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of eating something that’s home-grown, and you’ll save some pennies too.

Do you have an allotment or vegetable patch? What do your family love to grow? Share your photos and advice with us at @ACECLEANUK on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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