Gardening with Children

School Zone

Start Sowing Seeds

Date Posted: 01 March 2012

If you haven’t already, now is the time to buy the seeds you need for the coming growing season.  Get together a list of the things that you might like to grow this year.  Then think about the space you have available, and the amount of time you would like to spend. 

If you’re thinking about growing vegetables, check to find out when they are likely to be ready to harvest.  If possible it might be best to choose things that can be harvested before or after the summer holidays, unless you have an active holiday club that can help out.

Remember - when the children have put their efforts into making things grow its always nice if they can be there at what is one of the most exciting times of the gardening year!

Ideas for Things to Sow

We've put together a few ideas of the sorts of things you might consider growing this season.  It's great to get the children involved in pulling all your ideas together and its always better if you can grow things that most, if not all of the children, are happy to eat at harvest time.

One for the mouse
One for the crow
One to rot
And one to grow

Sweet Peas

Sweet peas can still be sown now. They are fairly easy to grow and will provide beautiful bunches of fragrant flowers all through the summer.

Sow them on a windowsill in some moist soil. Water little and often and don’t allow the soil to dry out. In April the plants will be ready to transplant outside to the place where they will flower. They will need trellis or one our wigwams to grow up, to support them as they get taller.   

Wild Flowers

We sell a lovely range of annual Flower Meadow Seeds, which can be sown in borders or in one of our raised beds. The seeds need to be planted in prepared soil where they will flower.

Sowing can be done in March, April or even May. Flowering begins in June and some varieties will continue to flower through into November. Each of our packets of seeds covers 2-3 square metres, and will provide a wonderful display of colour.  They'll also attract lots of bees and butterflies to the garden.

Potatoes

Growing potatoes can be lots of fun. They do need a fair bit of space but can be sown in containers or in a vegetable plot.

If grown in a plot, bear in mind they'll need to be rotated each year. It’s also important to choose an early variety that allows them to be harvested before the summer holidays - unless of course, you have an active holiday club who may be happy to do it. 

Before sowing, it’s a good idea to chit the potatoes first. This involves leaving them in a cool, light place to grow shoots.

Chitting can begin in January and helps to speed-up the growing process when the potatoes are sown into the garden. Chitting can be a great little classroom experiment or children can be given a couple of potatoes to chit at home before bringing them back in.

If planting in a garden plot, potatoes should be sown in a trench or individual holes at least 10cm deep and around 30cm between each tuber. Rows need to be around 50cm apart. When thinking about location consider distance to the water supply, as the plants will need watering regularly. 

To get you started we sell a great Potato Growing Kit, which includes a growing sack and a choice of seed potatoes. This is ideal for a hard standing playground or where there is limited growing space.

Peas

Peas are great to eat raw, straight from the garden and taste fantastic. Varieties include sugar snaps and mangetout.

They can be grown outdoors from March onwards in a shallow trench. It’s worth growing two or three rows together, as they will need support from pea netting or sticks. Mangetout are harvested when the pod is still flat, sugar snap when the pod is fat. Harvesting is from June to October.

Lettuce

Lettuce can be sown in indoors in trays from February and directly outside from March. Sowing several varieties and sowing small quantities every three or four weeks can give a constant supply of mixed-leaf salad for many months.

We produce a great Wooden Salad Bed that can be placed next to the kitchen door for healthy eating and a continuous supply of salads all summer. The bed is easy to assemble.

Lambs lettuce can be sown outside from March. Cut-and-come-again salad can be sown inside in trays or in a greenhouse during the spring term. After Easter it should be okay to sow seeds straight outside.

If the weather is unseasonably cold or frost is forecast protect seeds and seedlings with fleece, polythene film or a cloche.

Cut-and come-again salad is harvested when the leaves are still small and the crop will continue to grow back throughout the summer. Watering will be important during the drier months.

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