Four years ago my eldest two children planted apple trees in their garden. Or to be more accurate they planted some unpromising looking sticks that I assured them were going to grow into apple trees.
And guess what? I was right (note to family: I am always right).
So last weekend, I showed Ava and Oscar how to prune their trees.
I thought it best to explain it in terms they could understand, so I introduced them to the 'Bossy Bud'...
"So this bud at the end, the 'first-born' if you will, is the bossiest of all."
At this point I may well have looked pointedly at Ava.
"It stands there sending down messages to all the other buds to shut up, know their place and leave it all to them.
"So what do we do?
"Well we cut it off!"
On hearing these words Oscar looked just a little too delighted.
"But someone's always got to be in charge, so whichever bud is now nearest the top is going to take this opportunity to grow and make a whole new branch of their own. I mean wouldn't you want to show what you could do when there isn't a bossy sister... ahem sorry... bud putting you down all the time?
"So, and this is really important, you want to think long and hard about who you want in charge. Think about whose branch is going to make this tree look its best. Don't choose one that's going to grow right into the centre, get in everyone's way and cause trouble."
At this point all three of us looked at Archie who was systematically kicking footballs into the middle of the borders.
"And when you've decided which bud should be in charge, take the secateurs... CAREFULLY... and make a cut just above it."
Impressively, once they'd got this principle, they both managed to prune their trees with almost no help from me (apart from overseeing the use of secateurs of course - losing fingers can play havoc with homework).
And if you haven't got trees to prune, this is also a great time to start off seeds inside with kids. We were doing ours in the greenhouse, but a sunny windowsill will suffice just as well. I went through our seed packets and grouped together any that could be started off early and then let the kids chose three types each. Well, Ava and Oscar did anyway - Archie was busy. After all, footballs don't kick themselves into borders you know.