Grow your own for kids

Kids love growing their own veg!
We aren’t all blessed with spinach loving angels but almost all kids enjoy growing veggies themselves. And once they have grown their own vegetables they are more likely to eat them and they’ll have learned a bit about where food comes from. Plus you’ll be confident about the lack of pesticides on their food and justifiably smug about the lack of food miles!

What do you need for your kids to grow vegetables?
Not much – you just need somewhere to grow your veggies, sun, seeds & water.
Somewhere to grow your veggies – you don’t need much space, in fact almost all vegetables can be grown in gaps in the flower bed, pots or even window boxes full of compost. Potatoes can even be grown in a gro-bag.
Sun – most vegetables need a sunny spot, and tomatoes do well in a gro-bag against a sunny house wall.
You can buy basic vegetables seeds for about 70p a packet in your local supermarket or for specific varieties & home delivery order online. For more instant and reliable results buy seedlings but this will be more expensive.
Water – you will need to water the seeds/plants in, then occasionally when dry. Kids love to water but will forget so you’ll have to keep an eye on this yourself.

When should we sow the seeds?
Most vegetable seeds can be sown in the Spring. When you start to see weeds appearing you know your seeds will be able to grow too.

How do we sow vegetable seeds?
Just follow the instructions on the packet. The main thing is to let your children sow the seeds themselves. Even if you end up doing the watering, they’ll still feel that the vegetables belong to them and want to do the picking!

What vegetables are best for children to grow?
It’s probably best to let your kids choose which vegetables they like but for inspiration here are the Kidsguide top ten vegetables for kids to grow:
tomatoes – cherry tomatoes picked off the plant are irresistible and can convert the most ardent tomato-hater
sugar snap peas – sweet and crunchy – you can hear them “snap”. And you can eat them raw straight from the plant every day
radish – very quick, very reliable and an attractive colour to present proudly to grandparents etc.
mixed salad leaves – very quick, pretty and you can cut off a few leaves and let them “come again”
rocket – very quick and easy and will make mum happy cos it’s so expensive to buy
carrots – not so worthwhile economically but almost all kids like carrots and the home-grown flavour is so much more, um, carrotty
marigolds – OK they aren’t vegetables but they’re quick, kids think they’re pretty and they keep off many predators when planted amongst the veg.
pumpkins – huge, orange and ready for Hallowe’en
sweetcorn – these do need space but a favourite with children & they grow taller than your kids which is fun
potatoes – grown from “seed potatoes” – fun to dig up and even the most veggie-phobic child eats chips!

How do I get my kids interested in growing vegetables?
By not being too fussy and letting the kids do as much as possible – your children can choose what vegetables to grow and help you buy them. They can sow the seeds and water them in. They may be less enthusiastic about the regular watering and weeding but they should still do the picking!

Why should our family bother growing our own?
It’s fun and satisfying
You can teach your children about how food grows
It’s healthier
It’s much tastier
It’s fresher
It’s surprisingly easy
You don’t have to go to the shops
You know where your food has come from and that no pesticides are on it – so it’s 100% organic
No food miles
It’s a lot cheaper! A 70p packet of seeds will keep you in salad leaves for about 4 months!
And you get quality time in the fresh air with your children

Keep it simple and give it a go!
They key is not to worry about it too much but just have a go with one or two vegetables and see how you get on. A packet seeds costs less than £1 so you haven’t got much lose!

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