Looking for the best plants to grow with kids? Sowing a seed in earth is like magic. And the reward of watching a seedling push its head into the sunlight is a thrill for all ages.
Growing plants with kids and they’ll be learning all sorts of amazing science. It will help them understand where food comes from and they’ll be discovering how to look after their ’baby’ plants too.
What’s more, you even can grow plants with kids indoors if you don’t have a garden.
To grow plants with kids, you will need:
- Plant pots (clean, used yogurt cartons with drainage holes in the bottom will do)
- Clear plastic bag (or clingfilm or the top or bottom of a plastic bottle)
How to sow seeds
You’ll find the growing instruction on the back of your seed packets. Try to sow seeds indoors if it’s windy outside!
Fill each pot by three-quarters with compost. Next, poke a couple of holes in the soil, drop a seed in each, water and place in a clear plastic bag on a sunny window ledge.
The plastic bag locks in moisture and warmth, which helps the seed to ‘germinate’ or break through its seed coating.
A shoot will appear in search of light. That’s how plants make ‘food’ for themselves, using light and a process called photosynthesis.
Out of sight, roots will be growing down into the soil to absorb moisture and nutrients from the soil.
Plants are thirsty, so water daily but don’t drench them.
Once the seedlings have grown at least two sets of leaves, you can put them outside for a short while in a shady, sheltered spot.
Increase the amount of time they are outdoors and transplant into a larger pot with more compost until they are ready to be planted in the ground, a larger pot or a growbag.
The best plants to grow with kids
These seeds – which are about half the size of your child’s smallest fingernail – will be sunny plants that will tower above them by August. Be patient because they will take around a week to germinate.
Project: Measure and record your plant’s growth every day.
Harvest: Once the sunflower has bloomed, it will set seed and make a wonderful September larder for hungry birds.
The fast food of the vegetable world, these are a great edible starter crop for kids. As well as being easy to grow, the colourful roots are ready for eating within a month of sowing.
Project: Cut a yogurt carton into strips, so your child can write Radishes and the date the seed was sown
Harvest: Hold the green tops to gently lift radishes from the soil. Remove the leaves, clean in water, slice carefully to make a pretty pink radish sandwich or salad.
These seeds can be soaked on damp kitchen towel before planting directly outdoors in April or May for lovely scented blooms from July to September.
Project: Make a wigwam with bamboo canes or long twigs to support these climbing flowers and notice how the tendrils cling on – is it clockwise or anticlockwise?
Harvest: Pick the flowers regularly to encourage more growth.
Homegrown, sun-ripened tomatoes are the sweetest to eat. Kids will love growing cherry types, which can be planted in a hanging basket. They’ll need regular watering and when the plants are larger, a weekly tomato feed. The seeds are small, so lick your finger, then dab the seed to make it easier to pick up
Project: Grow topsy-turvy tomatoes. Make a small hole in the bottom of a hanging basket or bucket, fill with compost and place the tomato plant in the hole. The plant will grow downwards for easier picking without needing support!
Harvest: Pick, wash and eat or try slow roasting tomatoes to make a yummy pizza topping or pasta sauce.
The size of large peppercorns, these seeds are easy for small hands. Sow in pots or directly into the earth and eight weeks later you’ll have a mass of orange, red or yellow flowers.
Project: Count how many you have of each colour every day.
Harvest: You can eat the leaves and the peppery tasting flowers! They look amazing in salads. In the autumn, Collect the seeds, brush off the soil, dry them on a sheet of newspaper, and put them in a paper envelope in a cool and dark place, ready for next year.
These large beans are another easy-to-hand seed. Sow directly outdoors or in pots indoors from March-June. Unless you plant dwarf varieties, you’ll need canes to support your plants.
Project: Slugs and snails like eating the young plants, so to deter these ‘predators’ surround the plants with crushed eggshells and the middle part of a plastic bottle covered with petroleum jelly. Or if your children aren’t sensitive, make beer traps – fill an empty jar or yogurt carton with watered down beer, bury to the rim in the soil and wait for the slugs to crawl in.
Harvest: You’ll be picking beans 12-14 weeks after sowing the seeds – they’re yummy in stir fries!
Read more advice on how to grow other fruit and vegetables, including strawberries, raspberries and potatoes.
Good luck in the garden!