Dig In: 5 easy fruit and vegetables to grow with your kids
Gardening is a fun, easy activity to do with your children and one you don’t even have to own a garden for! Fruit and vegetables can be grown in containers or pots on a balcony or windowsill or even inside if you’re a city dweller! Gardening is a fabulous way to get kids to eat a variety of their five a day. You’ll be surprised what the kiddos will eat when they’ve grown it with their own fair hands!
Last year, we built a couple of vegetable boxes in our garden for our children to grow vegetables. We had an experimental year where we planted lots of different types of fruit and vegetables and waited to see what would take off! Some of the fruit and vegetables didn’t work out or were eaten by birds (I thoroughly recommend a net over any fruit you might grow!) But simply the experience of planting, tending and nurturing their little veggie garden, instilled a sense of responsibility and pride in our children. Their excitement at the first glimpse of a little shoot is priceless!
This time of year is the perfect time to start gardening with your kids. Try vegetable gardening with no-fail varieties that are fun and easy to plant and - best of all - fun to eat! The five fruit or vegetables below are big winners from our point of view and we’re not particularly green-fingered – proving that if we can grow something – anyone can!
Beans are perfect for growing with children. They are easy to plant, grow and taste great. You can choose between runner, climbing French beans and dwarf beans and they are perfect for a sunny, well-drained spot and can also be grown in pots. You will need a cane for them to grow up but we found they grow quickly and that the runner beans and broad beans were the best hit with our children. They loved picking them and popping them open to discover the broad beans inside.
Carrots are another easy vegetable to grow because they survive in most weathers. Be warned, we’ve never managed to grow beautiful carrots! They won’t any beauty contest but our carrots were much more delicious than those bought from the shop, they were nobbly and bobbly and the children had a lot of fun harvesting them and watching the little orange tops of the carrots peep through the soil!
Who doesn’t love strawberries? Strawberries are perfect for growing with children because harvesting them is like a treasure hunt, children love to peek under the leaves and find the strawberries. In our garden, the strawberries didn’t ever make it back from the garden though! Strawberries can be grown in any part of your garden and can take up either a small or large space, depending on what you have available.
We planted our Peas as vegetable plugs (bought from a garden centre) which made them even more foolhardy! As I eluded to earlier, it is best to cover the peas and green beans while they are first growing to keep them safe from birds but these are the most fun to harvest as the kids love shelling them from their pea pods!
Potatoes are another amazing vegetable to grow with children because you start with a seed potato so very little can go wrong! They are impossible to overwater and survive in most weathers. Starting with the seed potato and waiting for the ‘eyes’ to grow was much like a Science Experiment for my kids – they eagerly checked the airing cupboard everyday! Once the seed potatoes have ‘eyes’, plant them in a deep bucket or potato bag, watch them grow and every time the sprouts reach the surface, cover with more soil. A good tip is to wait until all the flowers on the potato plant has withered and died back before harvesting your potatoes. To test if they are ready, dig up a potato from one or two plants and rub the skin of the potato with your fingers. The skin of a potato that is ready for harvest won't fall off too easily (that is unless you planted new or salad potatoes.)