If like me, you’ve sniffed spring in the air this week and you fancy having a go at growing more of your own fruit and veg, then I hope this week’s blog will inspire you to give it a go.
I wrote this with (a lot of) help from Sarah, my (very) old gardening teacher, based on what we used to grow in our Primary School Garden; hope it inspires you to give it a ‘grow’!
Ideas on plants that are easy to grow
At home and when I was in my primary school garden we would sow just about everything indoors, in Feb-March and that way they are ready for planting in their final position when the weather warms up, usually after Easter. I would always choose a variety (type or version of the plant) that was either the most reliable for planting ‘up North’ (or wherever you live) or interesting i.e. colour shape or size (we once grew blue tomatoes at school!), this is supposed to be fun after all. When I was in the infants we would have planted beans and squash and sunflowers because the seeds are big and easy to plant. As I moved up in school, there would be different plant groups that we would grow from seed that linked to our science topics.
As far as equipment is concerned all you need is:
Cheap pots, which can be begged from ‘plantaholic’ friends and family or yoghurt pots do just as well or at home, we use the inside of toilet rolls
Compost – seed sowing compost or multipurpose is fine
Space, a greenhouse if you have one or windowsill is where they will be happiest
Care, remember the seeds will need space, sun (not too much), water (again, not too much) just keep the soil from drying out. Remember to read the instructions on the seed packets, there is tons of help and advice on the back of the envelope
Broad beans – are really easy to plant as they are quite big, they are ideal for young tots to grow. If planted against wet paper or tissue in a jam jar you can watch the roots grow down and the shoots grow up. Here is a link to the RHS Campaign for School Gardening, all about how to grow broad beans
My Mum loves making this broad bean salad and you know what, we’ve never grown them in our home garden before, so I’m inspired to give them a go this year!
Pumpkins – are great to grow because you get a huge fruit to eat in the autumn or decorate and save the seeds for the next growing year. They come in lots of shapes colours and sizes. There’s even a black one #spooky
You can even grow giant pumpkins and enter them into a ‘commonwealth competition‘ as I found out when I filmed for Blue Peter back in Autumn 2017. Ben, one of the contestants, said his top tip was to give them plenty of water and TLC!
Tomatoes are a must if you have a sunny spot to grow them on, there’s a variety for every space, providing its sunny.
The easiest and most space saving one is the tumbling varieties; we used to grow red and yellow tumbling tomatoes at school.
At home, we’ve never had much success with tomatoes, as we don’t tend to get much sun. Now we’ve got a greenhouse I’m hoping all that changes this year and we harvest some sweet, juicy tomatoes, which I’ll pop straight in my gob!
Nasturtiums – as flowers go, these are the easiest of all I think, and the best value for money as they are prolific! From one seed (which actually look like mini brains !!) you will get lots of flowers, which will encourage tons of insects and then at the end of the summer these flowers will turn into green “brain” seeds that you can save to grow next year #result
You can even eat them as the flowers are edible (I found them really peppery hot), they make dishes look so pretty as a garnish too
Something fun to grow – James Wong (he’s an RHS Ambassador like me) has a brilliant range with Suttons, they are all easy to grow interesting plants that most of us have never seen or heard of before. We’ve grown lots of these but the favourites were cucamelons (mini melons that taste like cucumber and lime), electric daisies and Inca berries
Potatoes – we have grown lots of varieties of new potatoes at home over the years and we always seem to go back to a variety called, Charlotte.
First, you have to chit them and then you plant them out. Check out the RHS Campaign for School Gardening website for a really great step by step picture guide. Once they are ready to harvest, you dig down and instantly you are rewarded with a bounty of spuds; they are quicks wins for us kids
and finally Peas – we grow peas at home for the simple reason, I love eating them.
We start them off using the inside of a toilet roll filled ¾’s of the way up with compost, you place the seed (like a dried pea) on top, then sprinkle more compost over the top and leave it, watering occasionally.
Then when it sprouts you can put it straight into your veg bed (the toilet toll is biodegradable). As the plant grows it needs plenty of support; you can use garden canes and twine. Pretty soon you will have lots of lovely peas to harvest and eat!!!