Free kids holiday fun at home
Phyllis, July 2016
Keeping the kids entertained on the school holidays can be a bit difficult – especially if you’ve got a mortgage and not a lot of money to spare. But there’s one activity that not only doesn’t involve leaving the house – it’s costs next to nothing to get started, can be done regardless of the weather and will provide ongoing excitement. It’s the age-old fun of growing veggies from scraps. It’s so important that kids develop an understanding and appreciation of where our food comes from. So why not conduct a windowsill ‘experiment’ and show them how a sweet potato grows! Cut around 10-15cm off the end of a sweet potato. Push some toothpicks into the potato, in a circle around the outside. Half fill a shallow glass jar with water and place the sweet potato into the jar, suspended around the jar edges with the toothpicks. Adjust the water level so that only around a third of the potato is under water. Place the jar on a sunny window sill. The potato will develop sprouts. When these sprouts are around 10cm long, they can be gently twisted off, placed into another jar of water where they will grow roots. These can then be planted out into the garden in spring, where phase two of growing a sweet potato begins! Then there’s that perennial favourite of growing carrot tops on a saucer of damp cotton wool. Before everyone gets too excited, make sure the kids know that they won’t end up with a whole new carrot that they can eat. What WILL happen is that the carrot top will sprout some lovely feathery green leaves and, eventually, little white flowers. You can go with the same method used for the sweet potato, or stay traditional and pop a few cotton balls onto a saucer. Dribble or spray some water onto the cotton balls until they’re damp but not soaking wet. Cut the 2cm tops off some carrots (we assume you’ll use the rest for a yummy winter casserole) and place them on the cotton wool. Place the saucer on a sunny window sill and watch day by day as the magic happens. Remember to keep the cotton balls damp. It will take a few days for kids to see the carrot top begin to grow, but once it starts it will grow quite quickly.