How to encourage kids to grow their own vegetables

Children can gain a real understanding of how food is produced, feel a sense of responsibility and a connection with nature by growing-their own. Plus they have the satisfaction of enjoying the fruits of their labour, says Hannah Mattison. Here's some handy tips to get kids interested in growing - and eating - their own fruit and veg.

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BEFORE YOU START

Choose a sunny spot in your garden, dig over the ground removing as many weeds, roots and stones as you can, and then add some compost or well rotted manure. If you don’t have a garden you can still grow edible plants in pots and containers outside or on a windowsill.

POTATOES 

Spuds can be grown in a bucket, planter or vegetable patch. Cover sprouting seed-potatoes with soil, then water and wait. As they get bigger, pile up more soil around the stems and soon your little ones will have plenty of potatoes to enjoy.

STRAWBERRIES

These succulent red berries are often a real favourite for fruit-loving children. They spread easily so will cover as much of your veggie patch as you like. And let’s face it, there are few things more satisfying than picking and eating your own strawberries.

SUNFLOWERS

Reach for heady heights by growing some fantastically bright sunflowers. Kids will marvel at how tall they can be, with some varieties reaching up to 15ft. Once the flowers have gone you can harvest the seeds or leave them for the birds to enjoy.

CABBAGE 

It might not be a favourite on the school dinner menu but kids are more likely to eat their greens if they’ve grown them themselves. Why not use home-grown giant cabbage in crunchy coleslaw or a sizzling stir-fry?

RADISHES

Kids will delight in pulling these crunchy little red root vegetables up from the earth. Radishes are ready in less than a month and are ideal for container and windowsill planting.

TOMATOES

Teach youngsters about the variety of life by growing tiny cherry tomatoes next to big beefy ones. Simply plant them directly into a growing bag of compost then water well at the base. Once ripe, you can compare the delicious flavours.

PEST CONTROL

  • Young gardeners will soon learn about losing precious plants to slugs, snails and birds, so here are a few child-friendly tips for deterring pesky pests:
  • Place a piece of old carpet outside for slugs to hide under, then simply turn it over every morning to give the birds a feast.
  • Build a log pile to encourage slug-eating frogs and hedgehogs.
  • Spread sand, grit or gravel around plants to prevent slug and snail attacks.
  • Plant French marigolds amongst tomatoes to deter greenfly and blackfly.
  • Hang up old CDs to scare birds away from crops and put a birdfeeder elsewhere in your garden. 

Photo credit: ©Gettyimages

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