Grow tasty treats in your own mini garden
Click on one of the bars below and find out how to grow some exciting things.
Growing Salad Leaves
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Salad leaves are great for kids to grow. They grow very quickly and you can eat them straight from the pot. Buy the ‘cut and come again’ varieties and the leaves will keep re-growing from the cut stem. You don’t need much room to grow your own leaves, and you can eat your homegrown salad from Spring to Autumn.
 
What You Need
  • Window box or pot
  • Seeds – salad leaves and rocket are great
  • Compost
 
How To Do It
 
1 Choose a pot with drainage holes and put some stones or broken pots (crocks) into the bottom of your pot – this helps the extra water to drain out without the soil coming out as well.
   
2 Fill your pot with compost until you reach about 2.5cm from the top. Gently pat down the soil with the palm of your hand.
   
3 With your finger or a pencil, gently draw lines about 1cm deep and 10cm apart.
   
4 Thinly sprinkle your seeds along the lines and then gently push back the soil over the seeds.
   
5 Water with a gentle spray and place the pot in a sunny position – patio, balcony or windowsill. Water regularly and watch out for slugs!
   
6 Check your seed packet to see how tall your leaves should grow and then cut regularly with scissors. Don’t let the leaves get too big. Once cut, the remaining stem should grow more leaves depending on the variety sown
 
Notes for Grown-Up Helpers
  • Salad leaves also do extremely well planted in a grow-bag under a cold frame.
  • If using a big pot, you can sow one side, and then 2-3 weeks later sow the other side to generate a constant supply.
  • Slugs love salad leaves, so try experimenting with different ways to get rid of them – broken egg shells around the pots (slugs hate the sharp edges), or make a beer slug trap. Cut the funnel end off a small plastic water bottle and put it back in the bottle up side down so it’s inverted. Seal the cut edges with tape and put a small amount of beer (slugs love beer) inside the bottle. Place the bottle on it’s side near your plants – the slugs go in, but can’t get out – and they die happy drinking beer!
  • You can sow salad leaves directly into vegetable beds – or why not try making our ‘veggie patch from old tyres’ to encourage the kids to grow a variety of tasty veg.
 
Growing Radishes
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Radishes are fast and easy to grow. You can grow them in containers or directly into the ground. They usually take about 20-30 days to grow.
 
What You Need
  • Vegetable bed or container (even a grow bag or old ice-cream tub with drainage holes will do)
  • Seeds
  • Compost if using a container
 
How To Do It
 
1 If using a container, put some stones or broken pots (crocks) into the bottom – this helps the extra water to drain out without the soil coming out as well.
   
2 Fill your container with compost until you reach 2.5cm from the top. Gently pat down the soil with the palm of your hand. o If sowing directly into a vegetable bed, make sure it has been dug over and raked.
   
3 With your finger or a pencil, gently draw lines along the soil about 1cm deep and 10cm apart.
   
4 Place a seed every 3cm along the lines and then gently push back the soil over the seeds and pat down gently.
   
5 Water with a gentle spray and place the container in a sunny position – although they do prefer the shade on really hot days.
   
6 The radishes should be ready after 20-30 days – you can gently push back the earth around the top of the plant to see if the radish has grown to a good size.
 
Notes for Grown-Up Helpers
  • If using a big container, you can sow one side, and then two weeks later sow the other side so that you don’t get too many radishes ready to harvest in one go.
 
Growing Strawberries in Pots
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strawberries growing

Strawberries are great fun to grow as you can watch the flower change in to a perfect red fruit. And you don’t need much room. If you use a pot, you don’t even need a garden – a sunny patio or balcony will be ideal. Then you just need some strawberry plants and compost. You can either buy your plants from a good garden centre or you could ask a relative who grows strawberries to give you some baby plants (runners) from the previous year.

What You Need
  • Pot
  • Strawberry Plants
  • Compost

 

 
How To Do It
 
1
strawberry pot

First choose your pot. You can get strawberry pots with pockets on the sides for more plants – use one plant in each pocket and two or three in the top.

Window boxes and grow-bags are also just as good. You should be able to get six plants in a grow bag. Make sure your pot has drainage holes. You can even re-use a grow-bag from last year that was used to grow something else.

   
2
crocks in pot
Put some stones or broken pots (crocks) into the bottom of your pot – this help the extra water to drain out without the soil coming out as well.
   
3
planting pot

When planting a strawberry pot, fill the pot with good quality compost up to the first pocket.

Plant your strawberry plant, and then add more compost to the next pocket. When you reach the top, plant two or three strawberry plants.

   
4
strawberry pot finished

Water your plants and leave in a sunny, sheltered position.

You need to check your plants every day to see if they need watering. If the soil feels dry, water them. On really hot days, they may needs watering twice.

Your strawberry plants will also love some plant food once a week – carefully read the instructions on the food that you use.

Remember to rotate the pot frequently so that the sun can get to all the plants.

If you’re using a grow-bag, try to keep the strawberries from lying on the soil – you could put some straw under them.

All you need to do now is eat the strawberries!

 
Notes for Grown-Up Helpers
  • Pots are ideal for children as keeping strawberries off the ground makes it easier for smaller children to plant and harvest - and also stops them trampling the fruit.
  • You can keep strawberry plants for 2-3 years – just keep in a sheltered position and protect the plants from harsh weather with horticultural fleece or straw. If the leaves look dead, don’t pick them off until you see new growth appear in the spring.
  • New plants can be grown for the next year by cutting the runners from the main plants (usually during August / September) and planting them. Pick off any flowers that may appear during this first year. When the leaves die off during winter, cut them back and new leaves will grow in spring.
 
Growing Potatoes in Tubs
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potatoes growing

You don’t need much room to grow potatoes. If you use a tub, you don’t even need a garden – a sunny patio or balcony will be ideal. You can even buy colourful ‘pop-up’ tubs which are very reasonably priced. Or you could just use an old crate.

What You Need
  • Large tub or potato growing bag– at least 30cm across and deep with good drainage holes
  • Fresh seed potatoes (tubers)
    – 2-3 potatoes per 30cm tub
    – on sale from Jan/ Feb (again in August
  • Compost

 

 
How To Do It
 
1
chitting potatoes

First you need to chit (sprout) your seed potatoes (tubers). Between February and March (colder areas) look at your potatoes and you will see small spots called ‘eyes’. Place your tubers in a tray (or egg box) so that the side with the most eyes faces up. Put your tray in an unheated, frost-free room – not in direct sunlight. After about six weeks your tubers should have lots of sprouts about 5cm long.

   
2 Put some stones or broken pots (crocks) into the bottom of your tub – this helps the extra water to drain out without the soil coming out as well.
   
3
planting pot

In to your tub, put in some compost about 10cm deep. Place 2-3 tubers on the compost, well spaced apart – spouts facing up.

   
4
adding compost

Add about 10cm compost on top of your tubers, and water until slightly damp. Your compost should fill about one third of the tub at this point. Put your tub in a bright, sheltered place, and keep watching for shoots to appear. Don’t over water as it can rot the tubers.

   
5
potatoes growing
When the shoots reach 15cm tall, you need to add another 10 cm of compost – this is called ‘earthing up’. The plant will grow more potatoes from the newly covered up stem. You need to water more when flowers start to appear.
   
6 ‘New potatoes’ (first earlies) will be ready when the plants start flowering, so keep checking on their size by scraping away the compost from the top of the tub. When the potatoes look a good size (you can always take the big ones and leave the smaller ones for later), you can dig them up. This should be about 10 weeks after planting. Potatoes can be left for up to 20 weeks. Now you just need to have fun cooking them!
 
Notes for Grown-Up Helpers
  • New potatoes are great for kids to grow, as they don’t have to wait as long to dig them up. They can then help you cook them without having to do any peeling!
  • Tubs are ideal for children as they are very accessible - you can put them wherever you want to in the garden, patio or balcony. It’s also easier to keep the slugs off. Try adding some grit when you put the crocks in the bottom of the tub.
  • You don’t need to but expensive pots – an old bucket or crate will do. Or you can even grow them in upright compost bags!
  • When chitting your tubers, the sprouts should be dark – pale ones suggest the room is too warm or not light enough. If the sprouts are growing slowly, try increasing the temperature in the room very slightly.
  • Potatoes can benefit from a liquid feed when flowering – keep small children away from bottles.
  • You can plant a second crop of potatoes in August ready for Christmas - remember to use fresh soil though.