Grow your own den!
Summer days are made for playing outside! But every so often you need a quiet space to catch your breath, read stories, have a cold drink or eat and ice cream. And that’s where dens come into their own.
You can make a den out of pretty much anything – chairs and a blanket, a clothes horse, a pile of sticks. But perhaps best of all is growing your own. It’s a wonderful opportunity for children to witness the magic of gardening, understand how plants grow and develop a love for their little patch of outdoors. Nature dens can spark all sorts of creativity as well as being a cooler retreat from the summer sun.
So this week we’re sharing two simple techniques for creating your own, natural den from seed.
Easy to grow, quick to germinate, cheerful – sunflowers are ideal as a first gardening experience for children. And they’re even better if you can turn them into a den! Their height means they can become impressive structures for your children to play in. Here’s how to create yours:
- Choose your spot and dig a shallow trench around the perimeter of your den – you’ll probably choose a large square or rectangle shape.
- Plant sunflower seeds around 15 cm apart. Don’t choose dwarf ones – you want them tall as they will become the walls of your den. Remember to leave a gap of around 75cm so children can get in and out once the seeds start growing.
- Water regularly and add stakes if needed as the flowers grow.
- You can either leave your den open-topped, or gently use twine to gather the stems together in a dome once the plants are tall enough.
Runner bean dens
Runner beans are another favourite for family gardening, as they are generally easy and speedy to grow. Here’s how:
- Get 8 runner bean canes, around 2 metres tall and push into the earth in a semi-circle. Leave at least 30cm between each cane. Secure together at the top.
- Plant 2 bean plants (or sow seeds directly in warmer weather) at the base of each cane.
- As the plants start to climb, secure gently to the cane with twine
- Water regularly.
If you don’t have lots of growing space available, both of these den structures can be adapted for use with containers. Simply plant a sunflower or bean per pot alongside a cane, arrange into a semi circle shape and tie the canes together to create your structure.
We hope you have lots of fun growing and gardening this year. If you want more inspiration check out our blog full of tips on getting children involved in simple gardening.