I’ve always thought of my garden as a family pastime and I love getting my sons involved in the yearly process of planning and creating our allotment and garden. My sons are gaining the knowledge of where our food comes from and how things grow which I think is a precious life skill I’m teaching my children. I also get a certain sense of wellbeing when I can feed them meals when I know exactly where the ingredients have come from that I’m putting on their plates.
This month I’ve worked with my sons to come up with 6 of their favourite things to grow in the garden, that are fun and relatively easy to grow, in the hope that they give you some inspiration especially if you’re wanting to get your little ones involved too.
These are always a winner with children, easy to sow with beautiful seeds and they are relatively quick to germinate. Once germinated they show progress in growth every couple of days, so children can see progress quite quickly. Once established they can grow to massive heights and produce beautiful big flowers that can be used as cut flowers left to attract wildlife such as bees and butterflies. We always grow sunflowers as my son Samuel is particularly fond of sunflowers especially when they tower above him.
There are so many varieties of pumpkins to choose from. From the very small and cute munchkin pumpkins to the massive heavy weight Big Max. Pumpkins are fun to grow as they can produce massive plants and especially fun to use if you celebrate Autumn festivals such as Halloween. Pumpkins are always fantastic when made into recipes such as pumpkin soup, or for those who have a sweet tooth, pumpkin pie. If you have a lot of space to fill, I’d particularly recommend growing pumpkins as they spread out across the ground. A Pumpkins perfect home is right on top of the compost heap as they love nutrient rich soil. My kids loved visiting the plot in the summer months to see how much bigger the pumpkins had grown. They found it particularly amusing when the pumpkins became too big for them lift.
Potatoes are an easy plant to grow that when harvested are like digging for treasure. Potatoes are a favourite of my eldest Joey who loves collecting them from the ground after we have done the initial lift of the soil with the fork. With so many different varieties to choose from you’re sure to find something to suit your taste. Don’t ask me why but my dad seems to like to pick varieties with girls’ names such as Charlotte, Ruby and Nadine. Potatoes always taste so much better home grown than from the shop and they are easy to prepare for the family into mash or chips.
Joey insisted I included tomatoes. When we grow the smaller varieties such as Roma or Cherry he eats them fresh from the vine like sweets. Tomatoes are also relatively easy to grow, but must be kept regularly watered, fed and pinched out to produce the best crops. Tomatoes are a great crop to grow in your greenhouse and are perfect for making into sauces, chutneys and relishes.
Sometimes I really struggle to get my youngest Samuel to eat his vegetables. Only recently has he started to enjoy his broccoli and cauliflower. However, he has always loved fresh peas from the pod. The whole process of growing peas to eating them is great for kids. The seeds are easy to handle and are fascinating to watch as they creep up their supports over the seasons. Harvesting has become a great family activity, searching for the pea pods and then popping them open to reveal neatly lined up peas that are sweet and crunchy to eat fresh or they can be taken home to be lightly steamed and eaten hot.
When I asked the boys what their favourite thing to grow was Samuel said carrots. Carrots can sometimes be hard to grow as they are prone to being attacked by carrot fly. However, we grow ours in raised up tubs that the carrot fly cannot reach. The boys thinly sprinkle the seeds on the top of the tubs and we lightly cover with soil. Once the seeds germinate and the tubs start looking full the boys thin out the seedlings. Samuel loves to munch on the tiny carrots. If they make it home the baby carrots are oftenadded to fresh salads. If you’re looking for something that is fun to grow you can sow rainbow carrot seeds that when pulled from the soil come in a range of colours from bight yellow to a fresh purple colour.
I hope I have given you some ideas to get the little ones in your life inspired to grow their own vegetables or even some fun ideas of crops you may like to try yourself.
Until next time… Happy Growing