I've been keen to get the girls in the garden growing food for a while now. It feels like a logical extension to the cooking we do together. Our main problem is that we don't own our house and have limited scope to dig a veg patch. So when I saw Handy Herb's Kits for Kids, I really wanted to try one out. As you might expect, they are herb-growing kits specifically designed to inspire children to get into gardening.
At the back of my mind was a nagging question: do I really need a kit? I could just go down to the garden centre, buy some seeds and compost, and then find some old containers to plant them in. And yes, I could have done that. But I am very glad I didn't. I couldn't never have re-created all the little touches that meant they didn't just have a bit of fun with mud, they were buzzing with what they'd been doing.
First up was preparing the compost. I would have just got them to chuck a bit in a pot. But the Handy Herb kits come with 'magic' compost. They poured water onto little blocks and then watched as they expanded. With a bit of a prod and a mix with a trowel, the blocks turned into compost. Genius. They were hooked.
While the compost was doing it's 'magic', they stuck stickers on the pot to know which herb is where. Left to my own devices, I might have got a bit creative here and got them to draw pictures to make into plant labels. But I would never have thought to do what Handy Herbs have done and create characters. Each sticker is a picture of a herby character: Corina Coriander, Pete Parsley, Mandy Marigold and Charlie Chive. They come with a little fact sheet. We sat in the sun and talked for a bit about each one and what we could make with them. They decided which two they were going to look after each and have since became quite protective about their respective ones. Creating these personas is not only fun, but seems to have helped them to see the plants as something/somebody that needs to be cared for; a pretty essential gardening lesson!
Next came the planting bit. I liked that the seed packets were bio-degradable and could go straight on a compost heap. In fact most of the packaging was paper or cardboard. The planting reminded me of cooking - spooning in the compost, pinching and sprinkling the seeds - and was a similarly fun way for them to work on fine motor skills and focus.
Now to wait a few weeks until they are big enough to use. The kit comes with four recipes for them to cook (one for each herb); the perfect way to show them how food goes from seed to plate. I'm afraid we were too impatient to wait for ours to grow before trying out a couple of the recipes. So, with shop-bought herbs, we made the Garlic & Parsley Bread and the Tuna & Chive Pâté. Both were easy, fun and very tasty. The pâté was a particularly big hit; I can imagine it becoming a lunch-time regular. I was especially pleased to see Eldest tucking into the chives because she normally picks out anything which tastes like onions. She was too excited to be eating her 'Charlie Chive Pâté' (as she re-named it) to notice! There are even more recipes on Handy Herbs website.
We were sent this Handy Herb Kit for Kids and asked if we could review, but our opinions are entirely our own. We liked this so much that we have put it on our products page with the rest of our favourite products for cooking with young children.