Winter’s a busy time on our farm. We’re always trying to get ahead before everything starts growing like crazy in the spring. It’s the perfect time for planting trees, nestling them into new homes while they’re dormant.
This winter we’ve chosen to plant a beautiful new prunus in our orchard called ‘Blushing Bride’ and four Silver Birch for the children’s playing field. Birch are quick to grow, tolerant of tough growing conditions and attractive to look at all year round. They’ll create a lovely little wooded corner for the children, filled with flowers in the spring and cool shade in the summer.
As this is the children’s space, it’s important that they enjoy nurturing it. We’re always keen to teach them at every opportunity about caring for the land and the nature that inhabits it. This not only involves what you might expect, like identifying a tree or bird, but also more practical skills. Caring for your land is a physical job, so we want the children to learn to use tools, and understand the ‘why’ behind all our actions.
We chose to purchase dry root trees as they’re cheaper, but they come with the risk that the trees may not survive. We talked with the children about how precious the trees were, and how we had to do a great many things to make our trees happy. Our daughter, who’s a very caring person, felt empowered to ensure her trees were the happiest they could be.
The children enjoyed removing the turf from the planting holes. They loved watching it roll up just like a thick green carpet and then loading it on to their wheelbarrow to be deposited into a ditch.
Using heavy, grown-up size garden tools can be hard work for young kids but at almost 7, our daughter is about ready. She enjoyed jumping on the fork and lifting the soil to turn it over. We watched the worms emerge and talked about why worms were so important for the garden.
It’s hard to keep children engaged for a long time in an activity that takes a while. We let them dip in and out when they wish, but always get them excited about an element of each step we take. That way it feels less like a chore and is much more likely to leave a positive impression on them.
The tree’s will require on-going care to get them through their first few vulnerable years, but now the children have played a part in the start of their story, they’re much more likely to take an interest in their growth and development.