Seeds for Children to Sow and GrowPosted By: Hugh Forbia Category:
Most children enjoy doing a spot of gardening – especially when the end result is something edible – but they want instant results and not all children like getting their hands dirty.
The following seeds are very easy to grow, have a high sucess rate and don't take long to germinate which make them ideal for young children.
For growing in smaller spaces, raised beds, grow bags and large pots
‘Salad leaves’: various mixes are available, some spicy. Scatter thinly over the surface of a grow bag or large pot filled with multi-purpose compost.
Lettuce: go for a tried and trusted variety eg. Little Gem, Webbs Wonderful. Sow thinly in small seed trays, then plant out seedlings when they have two true leaves. Good for teaching children how to handle seedlings (hold by a leaf, never the stem).
Radish: the fastest germinating seed! French Breakfast is a dependable variety, but there are several others. Pick radishes when young, before they become tough and bitter-tasting. Plant in succession so you a crop over several weeks.
Salad onions: White Lisbon, Lilia. Best sown in rows.
Beetroot: easy seed for little fingers to handle. Bolthardy and Cylindra are reliable varieties. Ideal for talking about thinning out - eating the first tiny beets and leaving others to grow larger.
Varieties which need more space
Leaf beet: Rainbow Lights will produce plants with bright coloured leaves. Pick the young leaves for salads.
Mange tout: (Oregon Sugar Pod or Shiraz) Easier to grow than peas. Climb 60cm+ so will need a simple cane and mesh support.
Broad beans: any varieties, but Aquadulce Claudia can be sown in October and will grow into sturdy plants over the winter. Needs space.
Potatoes: try planting an early variety which should be ready to lift and eat in late June/early July if planted in early March. Potatoes need space – 45cm apart and 60cm between rows.
Runner beans: Enorma produces huge pods. Sow each seed in it’s own smallish pot and transplant once it has two pairs of proper leaves. Great for competitions: whose runner bean can reach the top of the cane first.
The following varieties are considered to be ‘easy to grow’ - so ideal for children.
Californian Poppies: fine seed which is easy to scatter.
Candytuft: perfect for filling a gap in the border. Showy, scented flowers.
Cornflower: grows well in any soil, long flowering and good for cutting. Very attractive to bees and other pollinators.
Larkspur: choose a dwarf variety unless you have space. The Seven Dwarfs produces seven colours of flowers. Perfect for borders and containers. Another great pollinators.
Nasturtium: largish seeds so easy to handle. Fast germination time. Trailing varieties may swamp other plants, so choose a dwarf type. Self-seeds readily in subsequent years.
Nigella (‘Love in a Mist’): not fussy about where it grows—sun or partial shade. Beautiful sky-blue flowers which reach above the other plants.
Poached Eggs: produce a low carpet of yellow and white flowers with a soft scent - perfect for the front of borders. Bees love it!
Sunflower: sow seeds singly in small pots and plant out as soon as the roots appear. Tall varieties are great for competitions with neighbours, friends and family. Will need support in exposed spots.
General hints and tips for sowing and growing seed
· Always follow sowing instructions on the seed packets.
· Covering seed beds with horticultural fleece will help germination, retain moisture and protect young plants.
· Most veg plants will attract birds, slugs and other pests so be prepared to cover, protect and use appropriate deterrents.
· Using bark chippings or similar mulch will help retain moisture as well as deterring pests such as slugs and snails.