Vegetables are great to grow with children. Not only are you able to see them growing fairly easily, it also helps to promotes where food comes from (seed to fork). In today’s society, a child understanding this, is extremely important as so much food is available for delivery at the click of a button. You and I both know that in reality food is grown, often around the world, and this can be hard for children to understand.
There is such a variety of things to grow, it can be a little daunting at times to choose the right thing. You want to ensure that you’re grow something that is both easy for you and also something that they are going to be able to get involved with. It is fair to say, that some of the vegetables are easier than others and much of it will depend on your ‘green fingers’ as a parent and also how much time you have to invest in your garden. We are going to try and cover off as much of this detail as possible so that you have all the information you need to get started to have a successful growing season with your children.
What to grow if you are just starting out?
If you are just starting out in the garden with children, you are most likely going to want to choose something that is relatively easy to grow. And I don’t blame you. The last thing that you want to happen is for your plants to die or it just simply doesn’t work (yes I’ve been there!). You may also want to grow vegetables that don’t require much work in terms of sowing the seeds indoors but more ones that you can just plant straight out into the garden either into the ground or into containers. By the way, it’s fine either way.
If it is your first time and don’t have much time to invest in getting things ready in the garden, then we would certainly recommend starting out down the ‘growing in container’ route. And what we don’t want you to think is that this is a cop out. It is anything but. Even we grow things in containers because it makes is easier. And believe it or not, some vegetables are better suited to this way of growing.
At any given time, alongside our raised beds, we still have around 20 containers growing a multitude of things because it keeps them contained and also allows our little ones to help care for them. Not to mention, when it comes to harvest time, you won’t be needing to do any back braking work to dig them out of the ground. Containers are certainly an approach that we would recommend – experienced or not.
What will I need to grow the vegetables?
To be honest, you really won’t need that much to get growing in the garden. Even getting started with some vegetables in containers really won’t be that expensive or take up too much time. If you are looking to grow vegetables in containers, these ones from amazon would certainly be on the recommendation list. What is great about them is that they are easy to move and at the end of the growing season, they can be cleaned and simply put away for next year. From a practical point of view, they are also child friendly as they are made of felt – no danger of anything breaking or other plants being stood on.
How can children get involved in growing the vegetables?
Children can get involved at all stages of growing vegetables. If you are sowing seeds, this is great for their hand and eye coordination and also filling containers with compost can also be a lot of fun – messy too!
And of course, caring for the plant as it grows is just as important. It is always quite an exciting time if we have been away for the weekend and coming back to the vegetable garden and seeing what has grow over the few days (and what weeds have decided to break through). It really is amazing just how quick the magic happens! It always seems to be faster than when you look at them every day. This certainly gives a great sense of responsibility and our son is always extremely quick to tell everyone what is growing in the garden. It’s going to be fun when his friends are over in the summer and for him to share his own gardening experiences.
Then there is harvest time. What better than digging up all that wonderful produce and eating it up or turning it into wonderful food that you can enjoy for many months to come. Simply amazing!
What vegetables are easy to grow with children?
When to sow: April to July
Suitable for: In a container or in the ground (both just as easy)
Plants or seeds: Plants are available from the garden centre but sowing seeds is just as easy. Personally, I find the direct sow method of carrots the easiest and then thin them out. It can be a little tricky with store bought carrots as you will need to carefully remove them from the pot and then onward plant them. However, you will need to ensure that your soil has a good consistency so that your carrots can grow.
Time to harvest: It will vary for the variety but generally around 12 weeks
Check out our own post on how to grow carrots
When to sow: March to May but will depend on the variety
Suitable for: In a container or in the ground (our preference is in containers as there is less back breaking work). Containers can also help prevent the potatoes getting certain diseases that they are more prone in the ground.
Plants or seeds: You can buy seed potatoes from the garden centre or online through growers. I always find online easier and dare I say it better quality
Time to harvest: It will vary for the variety but if you plant early, you will be able to harvest your new (first earlier) as soon as June in time for BBQs. Maincrop potatoes will take a little longer. Check out our post on choosing potato varieties for more information.
Check out our own post on how to grow potatoes in containers
Whilst technically this is a fruit, we’ve also included it in the vegetables as you will most often find it growing amongst carrots, beans and other vegetables. Don’t worry, we have also included it in the fruit section to.
When to sow: Approximately 8 weeks before the last frost – indoors.
Suitable for: In a container, a grow bag or in the ground. Tomatoes will need full sun.
Plants or seeds: If you are starting these from seeds, a green house would certainly make it easier. However, a windowsill will achieve the same result. You can start as seeds in a tray or in a large pot (10cm) to prevent planting on. They are readily available from most garden centres from around April onwards – just make sure that there is no risk of frost. If you are looking for seeds, Thompson & Morgan offer a wide variety for delivery.
Time to harvest: Unlike other vegetables, the tomato makes it easy for you to tell when it is ready. And the beauty is that you can pick them through the harvest season and put them straight on the plate. This is what makes them great plants for children – just try not to eat them all before you get them to the plate.
First and foremost, beans really don’t like the frost and early planting should be avoided. However, don’t worry as they are really quick growing and will produce a crop in very little time.
When to sow: Children will love the process of growing beans as you ordinarily start them off indoors on the windowsill around mid April. This way, they are ready to plant outside once the risk of frost has passed. Tie this in with the showing how plants grow activity so that children can see the progress both above and below the soil.
Suitable for: Suitable for both ground and container planting. You will need to build support with canes so that the beans are able to grow.
Plants or seeds: Seeds are most definitely the best way to grow beans and a great way for children to appreciate them.
Time to harvest: Beans are ready to harvest in around 8 to 10 weeks but you can be sure that they are ready based on the size of the pod. By regular picking beans from the plant, you can get continual crop growth for up to 8 weeks. Beans are always great to harvest with children and a great vegetable to watch develop and grow.
Check out our post on how to grow runner beans
When to sow: Any time from April right through to September. They can also be grown indoors all year round if you enjoy rocket as part of your diet. By growing a new crop every three weeks, you should be sure not to ever run out.
Suitable for: In a container or in the ground. By having them in a container, you can move them into the shade if it is particularly sunny for a long period of time. This will help prevent the leaves going tough.
Plants or seeds: You can buy plants but seeds are just as easy.
Time to harvest: Typically you should expect to see rocket grow in around 4 weeks. What’s great about rocket is that it will grow back so will produce a lovely harvest for more than one meal.
Check out our own post on how to grow rocket