Children today watch far too much television.

And yes, it can be disconcerting to see your little girl imitating a TV babe or your son acting out a football foul.

Equally, you might feel guilty when you snuggle up with your three-year-old to watch, for example, one of the many gardening programmes that dominate the small screen.

But why? Used selectively, television is a goldmine of inspiration for child and parent.

And gardening, for example, is a major theme in many children's stories.

Take Jack And The Beanstalk, children love the story because there is drama and pathos with, right at the centre, a not especially- talented child who saves the day.

But, most extraordinary, is how he does it. With a magic bean that sprouts a giant beanstalk leading to unbelievable riches.

What child would not want to emulate that?

While you can't guarantee the riches, you can enable your child to feel the excitement and satisfaction of planting a bean and seeing it grow even at this late stage in the year.

What's more, by linking it in with television, you can nurture a lively interest.

First, for example, you have to buy the beans. Where would Charlie Dimmock go? A small child who has seen snatches of Ground Force would certainly know.

And a garden centre is a real treasure trove. While choosing your beans (which type would Alan Titchmarsh pick?), there is ample opportunity to look, smell and touch the plants on show.

Lavender, rosemary and the curry plant, for example, all have distinctive smells.

Encourage your child to touch the leaves and then sniff the scent on their fingers. The next step is to get them to identify the plants with their eyes closed.

The chances are, they will then want to buy a small pot of lavender as well as some beans.

A wise move, as lavender survives neglect, which can compensate if the beans fail to germinate.

As for the beans, there are many opportunities for experimentation, selection, measuring, drawing comparisons and more.

For example, encourage experiments with sun and shade, soil and sand to find out which are the best growing conditions.

Bring these to life by suggesting your child roleplays Charlie Dimmock for one experiment and Alan Titchmarsh for another and be philosophical about a bit of dirt, which can always be washed off with a flower-shaped sponge.

Use a tape measure to follow the growth of the plants and count the leaves; encourage regular watering with "Ground Force time.

Where's the watering can?"Discuss progress, using terms like germinate, stem, flower, pod, trowel and fork.

If the plants do yield some beans, harvest them, discussing how to do this without damaging the plants.

And remember, a gardening experiment can always be linked to other activities.

There is scope for painting pictures of the growing plant, perhaps with Jack and the giant or the TV personalities.

Finally, once you have picked the beans, you can cook them for supper. Bon appetit.