TOP 3 SUMMER VEGIES:
• PEAS – even the most anti-pea child can’t resist the sweet, crunchy delights that are sugar snap peas! Sugar snap peas are quick growing (normally you’ll be harvesting 6-8 weeks after planting) so are perfect for little gardeners. TOP TIP: The kids will love helping to construct a rustic bamboo/stick climbing frame for their peas to grow up, so make sure you involve them! Tepee style frames work well, as do more vertical structures.
• SWEETCORN – children love anything that grows taller than their heads, and even toddlers love peeling off the papery outer layers and picking the silky threads to get to the sweet kernels beneath. Corn cobs are delicious when quickly boiled and then doused in melted butter and herbs, but often the kids prefer them fresh, raw and crunchy! TOP TIP: Plant your corn in unison with climbing beans (Corn provides a natural pole for bean vines to climb, and the bean vines also help stabilize the corn plants, making them less vulnerable to blowing over in the wind)
• CARROTS – The element of mystery and surprise when pulling a carrot always appeals to children… especially if you’re planting an heirloom variety which come in a range of rainbow colours. Make sure the children are involved in ‘thinning the carrots’ – it’s always nice for them to see some evidence of what’s been happening underground. TOP TIP: carrots are easily grown in containers – letting your kids choose some bright cheap buckets to grow their crops in is a great way to increase a sense of ownership, just don’t forget to pop some drainage holes in the bottom and water frequently.
• HONORABLE MENTION GOES TO CHERRY TOMATOES – check out our previous post featuring cherry tomatoes here:
TOP 3 SUMMER FRUITS:
• WATERMELON – You can’t go past a nice slice of icy watermelon on a sticky summer day, and their sheer size as they grow always impresses the kids. TOP TIP: watermelons have a long growing time and are thirsty plants, so be patient and keep watering!
• STRAWBERRIES – the ultimate kid’s favourite, perfect eaten straight away; in smoothies or milkshakes; on pancakes or over breakfast cereal. TOP TIP: discuss the potential threat of birds eating their crops, and involve them in your plans to keep them off! They might want to help by making little scarecrows, or paint small rocks to look like decoy strawberries to accompany your netting.
• BLUE BERRIES – They take a year or so to fruit, but once the shrub is planted you’ll continue to enjoy their delicious fruits for many years to come. TOP TIP: If you’re hoping to sample some of the produce before the kids strip the shrub bare, you might need to plant several! Blue berries also grow well in containers.
TOP 3 SUMMER FLOWERS:
• SUNFLOWERS – The kids will be fascinated by their height, and their ability to track the sun across the sky as they day progresses (and when the petals fade they’ll love using a pair of old tweezers to remove all the seeds!) TOP TIP: There a huge range of sunflower varieties available, so read the seed packets carefully if you’re looking to grow a giant…
• WILDFLOWERS – Pick something that will suit your local area, sprinkle the seed and forget! Alternatively, the kids might like adding their pack of wild flower seeds to some soil and mud to create ‘seed bombs’ (there are lots of great tutorials available online – just google ‘seed bombs for kids.’) TOP TIP: Bees LOVE wildflowers, so be careful when picking your blooms.
• NASTURTIUMS – Bright, easy to grow and also edible! The idea of adding flower to salad is one that kids really enjoy, and anything that encourages them to eat their greens has to be a good idea. You can also show your children how to nibble the end of the tube at the back of the flower and suck out the sweet nectar – yum! TOP TIP: Make sure any flowers you’re planning to eat are pesticide and insect free.
What’s growing in your garden this summer?