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Food for Life - Schools Programme

                                                                                    

Easy to GROW Vegetables.

While it is easy to grow vegetables, some vegetables are easier to grow than others. When starting off a vegetable garden with your children, you will want to begin with easy vegetables to grow to almost guarantee a decent crop, encourage the children (and yourself!) and keep enthusiasm for growing vegetables high!

Just how easy to grow vegetables, does depend in part on your climate and the soil conditions, but the following list is generally agreed across the board as being a good guide on easy vegetables to grow.

  1. Cress. This must be the absolutely most easy vegetable to grow. Usually grown indoors in flat containers with just some damp kitchen towel or blotting paper, you simply cannot go wrong. Cress, like mustard, grows very quickly and is the ideal starting place for young children.
  2. Lettuce. Again, lettuce can be grown inside or out, in containers or in the vegetable patch. There are lots of different varieties to choose from.  Try growing a smaller lettuce which grows more quickly.
  3. Radishes. These are also a must on your list of starter vegetables. They prefer a damper or colder climate, and need very little maintenance - simply thin them out sufficiently to ensure there is enough space for the bulbs to develop. Radishes are often grown together with carrots, as the seedlings pop up quickly, acting as row markers, and also help to break down the surface for the weaker carrot seedlings to come through.
  4. Swiss Chard. Like spinach, chard is not fussy about the ground and needs almost no care apart from thinning out and weeding to begin with. Chard also looks nice, especially the variety with red stems, and both the leaf and stem can be eaten. In many climates, chard will overwinter quite cheerfully. Children who don´t like spinach, will often take to chard instead.
  5. Green Beans. Try the bush types for ease of cultivation, though runner beans do offer more yield in the same space (because they grow upwards!) and you can experiment with growing the beans over arches, creating a tunnel of runner beans through which the children can walk or make a bean tee-pee!
  6. Carrots. Providing you keep to a few simple rules, growing carrots is easy. They prefer a cooler climate and can be planted as soon as the frost is past and the ground is workable.
  7. Potatoes. Though often not considered to be an easy to grow vegetable, potatoes actually are as long as they are banked up and watered frequently. You can grow potatoes in containers which means they don´t take up much space for a decent crop.
  8. Spinach. The best type of spinach to go for is spinach beet (which is not really a ´true´ spinach at all) as it is less likely to bolt. Spinach prefers cooler climates so is ideal planted in early spring or autumn (check the variety on the seed packet), and like chard, leaves can be picked off and used and the plant will just keep on growing.
  9. Onions. Your best bet is to plant onion sets (miniature onions) rather than onion seeds to begin with. They are easy for younger children to handle and need almost no maintenance apart from initial weeding. Plant radishes together with the onions to mark out the rows, as they sprout faster. Onions like to be planted early on in the season, but there are also varieties which can be planted in late summer or early autumn for a winter or spring crop.
  10. Beetroot. Like spinach, kids either love it or hate it, but it is one of the easiest vegetables to grow. It can be planted as soon as the frost is over and just requires damp ground to germinate.