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The Nine Easiest Plants to Grow with your Kids

October 17th, 2011

Children are fascinated by plants and animals, especially if the
outcome is edible or impressive. The only problem is that they’re also quite
quick to lose interest when less-than-spectacular results are achieved after a
long wait. Obviously there’s an element of risk to cultivating any plant, but
we felt we should draw up a list of the plants we found the easiest and the
most satisfying to grow. Most of them don’t require too much specialist
knowledge, and nearly all of them can be grown in confined spaces. All of them
will capture the minds of youngsters and adults alike, hopefully inspiring more
people to grow their own vegetables at home.

We’ve decided to split this post into two categories – vegetables,
and everything else. The “everything else” category is an eclectic mix of
this-and-that, but we felt we ought to give precedence to the vegetables
section for two reasons: Most youngsters are interested in food and, boys
especially, will be doubly entertained by the notion of snacks growing in the
garden. Also, healthy eating is one of the most important elements of education
and the knowledge your child needs to nourish itself will last a whole
lifetime.

Vegetables

Lettuce

This might not get your child’s heart racing at dinner time, but
if they’re used to the dingy, dank stuff from supermarkets then they have no
reason to be excited. Home-grown lettuce with vinaigrette will bring your child
‘round to salad being acceptable, even if they’re unconvinced currently.

Carrots

The only thing we should mention with this is that carrots are
liable to bend and be knocked out of shape by rocks in the soil. Your child will have the opportunity to
plant a seed in the ground, and then mysteriously dig up an eight-inch root in
that exact spot a few months later.

Radishes

Your child may or may not like radishes, but they’re among the
easiest plants to grow and will encourage an interest into more diverse tastes.
If your child does not like them, consider “sculpting” them by scoring them
slightly then plunging them into cold water. They’ll look cool, and taste a bit
less tangy.

Bell peppers

Incredibly easy to grow, but even easier to incorporate into
dishes. You can toss them into salads, add them to kebabs, use them to garnish
dishes, put them in your Bolognese… they have a certain sweetness which you’ll
be able to appreciate even more when you eat them straight from the garden.

Tomatoes

Again, so easy to grow and they work in many summer meals. These
are so easy that a lot of people don’t even bother with planting or pots – just
score some holes into a bag of compost and away you go. Watch out for tomato
blight – the same spores which demolish potato harvests – and if you detect signs of blight in your plant, pick all the
fruit at whatever stage and turn it into chutney.

Everything Else

Basil

This will grow indoors quite happily, provided it has the sunlight
it needs to photosynthesise. (Never too young to start
learning about these processes!) The magic of basil lies not in its biology but
in its taste, which brings any Italian dish to life. Try cooking the leaves on
pizza for an aromatic addition.

Rosemary

Alongside its sister Thyme, these two stalwarts of the herb
cupboard are evocative smells for anyone who grew up in a foodie household.
There are different types of thyme for your child to explore (try the
distinctly citrus-scented lemon thyme) and rosemary goes almost too well with
lamb.

Strawberries

Who doesn’t like strawberries? They’re incredibly good for you,
even if served with cream, and they’re fun to grow. Once they’ve established
themselves, they’ll put out “runners” and colonise whole areas of the garden.
After three years, dig them up and start again to maximise fruit production.

Garlic

Plant garlic in Autumn or even Winter, covering them up with hay
and watering them in the Spring (once you remember what all that hay is doing
all over the garden). The flavour of garlic is a brilliant addition to many
dishes and is a key ingredient in a lot of French cuisine.

 

About the Author:

Dee is a freelance writer and a proud mother of two.  She writes for several sites, one of which
deals in truck rental which might be handy if the kids grow too much vegetables!

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Kids and Fall Gardening: Make It Fun!

September 14th, 2011

If you’re a fall gardener and you have children, you can provide them with wonderful, educational experiences via your garden and plants. From exploring nature to delving into biology to showing older, budding chefs how to prepare simple dishes with fresh fare from the garden, you can plant nurturing and inquisitive seeds inside your children that can last a lifetime. And with kids getting back to school, it’s also a great way to foster a sense of learning and study.

A fall garden is home to a wonderful variety of bugs that make great biology subjects. When you and your kids come across bugs, you can educate your kids on the roles that each bug plays in the garden. We even have blog posts dedicated to garden heroes and villains (bugs!), including Garden Villain: Itsy Bitsy Spider Mites, Garden Hero: The Green Lacewing, AKA Aphid Lions, Garden Villain: The Leafhopper, and more.

Do you have a child that displays a love for drawing? A fall garden provides the perfect environment for sketching…You never know: you may have a future naturalist or scientist in your family. From plants to insects, sketching has a long history as a means of scientific investigation. Surprise your artistic child with a blank journal and colored pencils for their “field notes,” and then teach them how to observe bugs and plants and jot down notes. From the behaviors of a specific bug to the colors of a Red Express Cabbage as it matures, there are so many sketching opportunities to be found in a fall garden. Another great activity for a budding artist is to have him or her draw a plant as it grows from a seedling to maturity.

If you have a child that loves food and loves to help in the kitchen, a fall garden can be a great source of inspiration and creativity. Teach your future chef how to tell when lettuce, broccoli and other fall garden vegetables are ready for harvesting. When it’s time to make a salad with your home grown foods, walk your child through the salad making process, from harvesting the vegetables right from the garden to cleaning the vegetables to preparing the vegetables for a salad. Talk about our five senses and have your child describe how each one is affected by, say, a head of lettuce. Before you know it, you’ll have your own personal salad maker and a child who is eager to experiment with a variety of healthy tastes and textures.

Kids + Vegetable Gardening + Fun = A Love for the Freshest, Healthiest Foods

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Seed Saving

May 28th, 2010

 

One of the greatest joys to be had from growing your own herbs and vegetables is seed saving. Seed saving is one aspect of sustainable living and old as mankind; it’s the traditional way gardens were maintained. The cyclical process of planting | harvesting | planting not only saves you money in the long run, but also offers wonderful rewards.

Whether you may be interested in seed saving as a hobby, to preserve 50+ years of outstanding heirloom varieties, for self reliance, or to provide your family with nutrient-rich foods of outstanding quality, seed saving is an important art form that honors the true taste and texture of our favorite foods. From generation to generation, seeds have provided civilization with a diversity of plants that nourish and sustain. It’s seems only fair that we nourish precious plants back, via seed saving.

If you’re new to seed saving, consider saving seeds from beans, lettuce, peppers and tomatoes, as they offer the greatest chance for successful seed saving. Once you get basic seed saving techniques mastered you can try your hand at saving those vegetables that require more seed saving care.

For seed saving techniques, visit Humble Seed then click on ‘our products’ then ‘Seed List and Details.’

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