It's cold, wet and muddy outside, but don't let that stop you enjoying the garden with your children, as there's still plenty to do.
Here are Wicken Toy's top tips for gardening with the children in January.
1. Get Digging The ground is very wet now, so if you were planning new flower beds for this year, or wanting to dig out a vegetable patch, now ids a good time to do it.
2. Make A Mud Pit Anything you can do with sand, can also be done with mud, so instead of trying to keep a sandpit clean and dry, simply dig out a mud bowl and let your children enjoy making mud pies, mud castles, and mud soup. The best part of the day will be coming indoors for a warm bath and a hot chocolate.
3. Make Bird Feeders Looking after the birds is especially important at this time of year when the cold weather makes it difficult for them to feed themselves, while boosting their daily calorie requirement. There are lots of tutorials online on how to make a bird feeder. The simplest method is to take an empty toilet roll, smother it in peanut butter, and then roll in bird seed. If you have a swing set in the garden, try hanging the food from the top cross rail, where the birds can eat it, but the squirrels will struggle to reach.
4. Make Plans This is the time of year to plan what flowers or vegetables you would like to plan in the coming year. Make a gardening calender together showing when the seeds need to be planted and the crops harvested.
5. Plant A Willow Den If you've ever wanted a willow den for your children to play in, January is the time of year to plant it.
6. Make Believe The view out into the garden can be a desolate one this time of year. Brighten the view by painting pictures of what the garden might look like in the Spring and Summer. Go crazy with vibrant paints and glitter, then put the picture in the window so you can imagine you are looking out on a beautiful landscape.
7. Get Pruning Obviously don't let your children run riot with sharp tools, but they can help you identify what needs pruning, and with careful supervision, depending on their age, they may help with some cutting. Fruit trees and hardy foliage plants can be pruned in January. After snow or a heavy frost, you should inspect the garden for damage plants. Dead areas need to be removed or else they will attract disease or fungal growth.
8. Salt Your Path It's a good idea to keep a bag of rock salt to hand, to sprinkle over the path. Be careful as you apply it though, as rock salt can scorch plants and grass. If you do notice the edges of your lawn are discoloured, don't' worry as it will soon grow out. Just be aware that there's no need to treat it for disease as the damage was caused by the salt.
Your children are more likely to respect and enjoy your garden if they are engaged in its care, so wherever possible break down tasks into child-friendly portions and let them help you out.