If one of your New Year's Resolutions was to give your garden a bit more TLC, then getting your children involved will be a step in the right direction.
Sure your garden is a valuable play space, but if you want it to be more than a playground, your children will need to be a part of planting and caring for the flowers or vegetables you want to grow.
Here are some gardening ideas for February that all the family can contribute to:
1. Make A Note For The First Signs Of Life Every year when you get a new calendar, you mark out important anniversaries and birthdays. For children these dates help them mark time throughout the year, but can seem a long time apart, and are a little abstract to understand. Use your garden to fill the calender with dates of events for which they will have first hand experience. If it snows, write down when and how much. In February you can also look for the first signs of snowdrops breaking through the soil.
2. Sow Hardy Vegetables Broad beans, spinach, shallots and early carrots can all be sown outside at this time of year, with some protection against late frosts. Children can help sow seeds, erect protective coverings, and create labels so they don't get forgotten about.
3. Weeding And Clearing As the weather warms up, any weeds will burst into life, so now is a good time to evict them, long before they take over. Use this opportunity to explain to your children why some plants aren't good for the garden, but that they must only remove plants with your supervision.
4. Feed The Birds If you aren't doing it already, put some food out for the birds, who will be short on reserves as we reach the end of Winter. Children can make a simple feeder by rolling an empty cardboard tube in peanut butter, then covering with bird seed. Once you start feeding birds in your garden, you need to continue to do so regularly, as they will become reliant on you for food. Take care to hang the feeder away from play equipment to avoid it getting covered in mess.
5. Check Play Equipment Is Safe To Play On If you haven't done so already, carry out a thorough inspection of your outdoor play equipment. The worst of the winter weather should be over by now, during which your play equipment has ensured high speed gusts and low temperatures. Follow this guide for inspecting play equipment to check it's in a safe condition to be played on.
6. Clear Debris With the worst of the storms behind us, now is a good time to clear away the sticks and leaves littering the garden. Use the larger sticks stacked in a corner of the garden to create a bug hotel. Some leaves can be incorporated into your new bug home and the rest can be used in a compost heap.
Tempting though it may be to tackle these jobs alone, in the long run it is better to get the children involved in the garden Learning how to take care of their outdoor play spaces will help them respect the garden, and equip them with life skills they will need in later life.