Grow your own fruit and veg with children

Children love to grow their own fruit and veg and as spring is officially here, it’s the perfect time to get them started. Growing their own food will help them to understand where their food comes from and they will be more likely to eat it if they have grown it themselves.

What if I don’t have a garden?

You don’t need much space to grow. There are many plants that can be grown in small outdoor spaces, indoors, in pots, on windowsills or in leftover containers.
You don’t need to spend lots of money buying special equipment as you can make everything you need or use items from the kitchen that you already have. There are even some plants that you can grow without soil.

What if I can’t get pots?

You can make your own containers for seeds and plants from a rolled-up newspaper in a jar, egg cartons, eggshells, kitchen towel or toilet roll tubes, yoghurt pots, disposable coffee cups or takeaway food containers.

What can I grow?

Grow your own fruit and vegetables

  • Fruit and vegetables to start children growing with include strawberries, radishes, tomatoes and peas
  • You can buy small strawberry or tomato plants from supermarkets or garden centres. Strawberries look great planted in an old welly, where the strawberries trail down the side
  • Radishes and pea seeds grow fairly quickly and are great for small spaces
  • Plant them in any container and watch them grow. Peas produce long shoots which look great as hair growing out of pots decorated to look like faces.

Grow your own cress

  • Packets of cress seeds can be bought from supermarkets, garden centres or online
  • They are very cheap, easy to grow and you don’t need any soil
  • Sprinkle some seeds on some kitchen towel or cotton wool
  • Place in a warm place, like a windowsill
  • Keep watered!
  • The cress will grow very quickly
  • You can grow cress in anything you like so let your child use their imaginations!

Grow your own herbs or salad

  • You can grow herbs or lettuce from seeds or buy seedlings or small plants from supermarkets or garden centres
  • Why not try making your own mini herb garden by sowing herb seeds in old containers?
  • Herbs and salad can all be grown indoors on windowsills

Top tips for growing

  • Place your seeds and plants in a sunny spot such as a windowsill or patio
  • Keep watering your seeds and plants
  • Check on your seeds and plants every day so your child can see progress
  • Don’t forget to remove weeds if you put your plants outside and watch out for slugs!

Children learn about their food by exploring it with their senses so let them get their hands dirty and involved in all the planting, watering and picking. Looking at, touching, smelling and tasting foods all encourage your child to learn more about the food they eat and may encourage them to be more confident eaters.

More gardening tips for children

Check out this ‘Grow your own food at home!’ video, created in partnership with Castlebank Horticultural Centre

There’s some great advice for children starting out with growing on the CBeebies website https://www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies/grownups/7-tips-for-gardening-with-children

Some fun gardening activities and things to make on the National Children’s Gardening Week website https://www.childrensgardeningweek.co.uk/fun-things-to-do/.

The Royal Horticultural Society has a Campaign for School Gardening which contains lots of ideas for gardening with children https://www.rhs.org.uk/education-learning/gardening-children-schools.

Author: Zoe Griffiths, RNutr

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