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 fruit and vegetables. Here are some handy tips to get kids interested in growing - and eating - their own fruit and veg.

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Teach children how to grow their own fruit and vegetables and get them interested in gardening and healthy eating for life with our beginner’s guide to growing fruit and veg for children. 

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.

Seedlings growing in an egg box

Potatoes

Potatoes
If you’re short of space, potatoes can be grown in a bucket or planter/Credit: Getty

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

Ripe strawberries hanging on plant
Ripe strawberries ready to pick/Credit: Getty

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.

See our guide to growing your own strawberries


Sunflowers

Young girl watering sunflowers in garden
Sunflowers are fun and quick to grow making them an ideal gardening project for children/Credit: Getty

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.


Carrots

Girl holding a bunch of carrots
Carrots are a fun and easy vegetable for children to plant and pick/Credit: Getty

Carrots 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. They will love digging them up ready to eat, plus you could have fun growing carrot varieties that they may not have seen before, such as ‘purple haze’, ‘atomic red’ or ‘solar yellow’.  Try using home-grown carrots cut into slices or sticks for children to snack on.


Radishes

Radishes growing in soil
If you’re short of space, radishes can be grown in a little window box and grow quickly/Credit: Getty

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

Tomatoes @Kathy Bishop and Tom Crowford
Tasty tomatoes are a juicy late summer treat/Credit: Getty
Kathy Bishop and Tom Crowford

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.


How to control garden pests and protect your plants

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.
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