You don’t need to have greenfingers to be able to enjoy gardening with your children. It’s a wonderful way to spend time together that will also give you a more colourful and productive garden.
We may be stuck at home but the weather is sunny and it’s spring. What better time to get gardening with your kids. The Which? Gardening magazine experts share their top tips of activities you can do.
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There’s no better way to encourage kids to eat more vegetables than for them to grow them with you. It’s too early to sow veg that doesn’t like the cold, such as courgettes, runner beans and sweetcorn, but there’s plenty of hardy veg and herbs that you can sow now, including:
- broad beans
- spring onions
Many supermarkets sell veg seeds and compost, so you can pick them up with your food shop or order them online for delivery.
For the best results, use a Best Buy compost.
The easy way to sow veg with kids
- Plant direct in the soil outside or in a big pot filled with compost.
- Pull up any weeds – get the kids to dig them up, roots and all, so they don’t return.
- Get the kids to draw a straight line in the soil or pot to make a seed drill.
- Water along the length of the line then the kids can sprinkle the seeds along its length. Younger kids will find it easiest to sow larger seeds, such as broad beans and beetroot.
- Gently cover the seeds with more soil and then check each morning to see if the seedlings have appeared.
- Check the back of the seed packet for how far apart the plants should be and then pull out any excess seedlings to give the remaining ones space to grow.
Potatoes are especially good to grow with small children as they’re large and easy to handle. They can be grown in pots, so you don’t even need a garden.
It’s best to use ‘seed potatoes’ which are sold for growing. Many supermarkets sell them at this time of year, or you can buy them online from suppliers, such as Mr Fothergill’s and Thompson & Morgan.
Check our Best Buy varieties of potatoes.
How to grow potatoes in the ground
- Dig a hole about 15cm deep and pop a potato in the bottom – try to place them so the little shoots are facing up.
- Put the potatoes roughly 40cm apart.
- Fill the hole with soil and wait for the shoots to appear in a week or so.
- When the shoots appear, cover them with more soil. It may feel odd to cover a plant with soil, but it will stop the frost blackening the leaves.
How to grow potatoes in the container
- Empty compost bag with drainage holes punched in the bottom, fill it about a quarter full with compost, then put one potato at the bottom.
- Once it has produced shoots, cover these with more compost. Every time the shoots emerge again, cover them with more compost until eventually the whole pot or compost bag is full.
- Potatoes need regular watering and appreciate having some plant food added to their water once a week. They’ll be ready to harvest in about June.
- You can check how your crop is developing by putting your hands in the compost and feeling around for potatoes.
Watch our video about how to grow potatoes.
As well as veg, there are lots of flowers that can be sown now for colour this summer. Easy ones for kids include:
- pot marigolds (calendula)
- sweet peas
They all have relatively large seeds that are easy for small fingers to handle and they can all be sown either in pots of compost or direct in the ground in the same way you sow veg (see above).
Press spring flowers
Spring brings lots of flowers, whether they’re ones you’ve grown or just weeds, such as daisies. A fun way of preserving them is to press them in a heavy book.
- Put them on a thick piece of white paper and cover with another piece. Then place them in a heavy book, preferably with a few more books on top for extra weight.
- Leave them for a couple of weeks, then check if they’re ready by gently opening the paper and touching them.
- If they feel papery dry, they’re done. They can then be used for crafts projects.
Get advice on gardening problems at the Which? Gardening helpdesk.