Growing fruits and vegetables at home is an excellent way to teach children about the origins of their food. Your kids will enjoy planting seeds, watering young plants, and eating the food they help to grow.
Start with simple foods that are easy to grow and mature quickly, but that your children already enjoy eating. You might want to teach them how to make a herb garden first, and then, if that piques their interest, give them their own corner of the garden.
How to start
Fruit and vegetables can be grown in various settings, from open ground to pots and containers – you don’t need a dedicated veg patch if you don’t have enough space. Grow only crops that are appropriate for your growing space; For example, if you only have a few pots, grow salad and other container crops. Avoid sun-loving crops like aubergines and tomatoes if you’re planting in the shade. Pumpkins require a lot of space to grow well; If you only have a small plot, grow courgettes instead.
Choose pots with a minimum diameter of 30cm to allow plants to grow. The larger the container, the better the crop. Any container with drainage holes will suffice. Fill the container with fresh, peat-free multipurpose compost. Crops grown in pots require more frequent feeding. Slow-release fertiliser pellets and liquid feed are available; Tomato feed is ideal for a variety of flowering crops such as courgettes, sweet peppers, aubergines, and strawberries.
Tools you’ll need
You’ll need some basic tools, such as a fork and a trowel. A spade, hoe, fork, and rake are also useful for growing in the ground. You can keep plants hydrated by using a watering can or hose.
Crops can be grown from seed or purchased as young plants in the spring; a wide variety of crops are available. Tender crops such as tomatoes, peppers, courgettes, and salad should be grown indoors, then gradually acclimate to outdoor conditions before planting in the ground.
5 Easy crops for kids to grow
Courgettes grow easily from seed. Plant the seeds 2.5cm deep and 1m apart. Grow in fertile, rich soil (ideally with added manure). You can grow one plant per 30 cm pot, but it will require more frequent watering and feeding. After only eight weeks, healthy plants will produce a continuous crop. Harvest the courgettes on a regular basis to keep them cropping, ideally when they’re the size of your hand.
Low-growing French beans are very simple to grow because they do not require staking like taller beans or peas. Plant three plants in a 30 cm pot or space them a hand’s width apart in open ground. If you have room for a bamboo cane wigwam, runner beans are an excellent choice. Small children will enjoy sneaking inside the wigwam to collect beans that adults cannot reach!
Bush tomatoes are extremely simple to grow. Plant small plants in good, peat-free compost pots or hanging baskets, and water and feed them regularly. Children will enjoy eating the warm, juicy fruits straight from the plant.
4. Salad greens
Rocket is the simplest salad crop to grow because the seed is large enough for small hands to sow and it crops for weeks. The flowers are also edible, which is a novelty for children.
Strawberries are a popular fruit among children and are very easy to grow. Choose ‘ever-bearing’ varieties like, which bear fruit all summer. Plant them about a hand’s width apart in the ground or in pots. Once the plants have begun to flower, feed them with tomato fertiliser.