Everybody knows a sun-ripened strawberry straight from the plant is nicer than one from the fridge – so why don’t more of us grow our own fruit and veg? Maybe because it can actually be quite hard work, with the rewards not always guaranteed. But it’s worth having a go if there are little ones in your house - it’s never too early to introduce them to the delights of homegrown produce. The trick is to make it easy for them, and easy for yourself.
The golden rule of growing edibles is to grow what you like to eat. When you’re getting kids involved, I’d add a couple of things – they should be easy, and they give you results fairly fast. And most of all, they should be fun. Here are my suggestions:
Soft fruit: a few strawberry plants in a sunny spot is the way to go – growing them in a container keeps them off the ground and it’s fun to watch them ripen. If you have room, a row of raspberry canes would be cool – the autumn ones are the easiest.
Peas: Sweet little peas are delicious eaten raw, straight from the pod – it doesn’t matter if they never make it as far as the kitchen! They’re easy to grow from seed or you can buy young plants in spring.
Early potatoes: Digging your own spuds is definitely fun, and first earlies are the best. A bag or container will do to grow them in, and you’ll be harvesting your spuds in June, before the blight’s around. You only need a handful of seed potatoes, and they’re easier to manage for very small hands than seeds.
Herbs: Older kids, as they start finding their way around the kitchen, can practise their knife skills on parsley, chives and coriander. Fresh basil leaves can be torn and scattered over pasta or pizza – very Junior Masterchef, and if they’re really getting into it, woody aromatics like sage, thyme and rosemary can be tossed into marinades for the barbecue. Let them experiment and see what they come up with!
Make mine a large one
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