The best fruits to grow with your kids are those that:-
- Are easy to sow or plant, especially those with large seeds.
- Germinate quickly, to keep those short attention spans occupied.
- You can sow in situ, so you do not have the trouble of transplanting.
- Produce a crop quickly.
- Require minimum maintenance other than watering and feeding.
- Will continue cropping.
Grow food that you know your children already like or food you have a good chance of persuading them to munch. Vegetables and fruit that you can eat straight from the plant, such as strawberries are always a hit with kids. Harvesting food is one of the best things about growing your own. Unlike vegetables you do not have to grow most fruit from seed each year, so once planted fruit bushes and trees will keep fruiting each year.
Growing Strawberries with Children
Strawberries are a must for any children’s garden. They are trailing plants so work well trailing along the ground or down from pots. Growing in pots or hanging baskets helps to reduce the risk of slug damage.
- Plant Out: April–May
- Harvest within 12 weeks from June
- Where to plant: Growbag, pot, the ground, hanging basket or strawberry pot in a sunny location.
- What to sow: Plant.
- Latest planting time: End of July.
You can buy plants mail order or from a garden centre in the spring. Some suppliers keep plants in a cold store and will supply up to then end of July. Buy at least 6 to achieve a satisfactory crop, many more if you want to have a good supply.
Plant 3 plants equally spaced in a growbag or individual plants in 30cm pots filled peat free multi-purpose compost. You can buy also specially designed strawberry pots or plant directly into the soil in your garden (40cms apart) in a sunny location. If your garden is home to lots of slugs and snails then planting so the strawberries can hang off the ground is highly recommended.
Plants growing in growbags and containers will need weekly plant food after 6 weeks, whereas plants in the ground they won’t.
As the fruit starts to colour, cover the plants with netting to protect from the birds. Plants crop better from the second year and in the ground rather than in containers.
Get the Children to grow Free Strawberry Plants
You can get strawberry plants for free as they spread by producing runners – new small plants. This is a great project for kids. When they find a runner keep it attached to the main plant dig a small hole in the soil under it. Place a pot with multipurpose compost in the hole. If the parent plant is in a pot then just rest the new pot on the surface of the soil. Push the new plant into the pot and secure with a paperclip. Water the pot and as soon as the plant begins to grow, usually 3 to 4 weeks, cut the runner. Your children can see that growing new plants is really that easy.
Use Strawberries: Drink as well as eat: try strawberry smoothies or milkshake.
Growing BlueBerries with Children
Reduce your carbon footprint by growing your own blueberrries, now a firm children’s favourite. The bush can be ordered and planted in the winter. They are prefect for growing in containers and once planted will keep growing year after year, just like your kids.
- Plant Out: When it arrives.
- Harvest: July/August.
- Where to plant: In a large container outdoors filled with ericaceous compost.
- What to plant : Bush.
You can plant blueberries almost at any time of the year from container – grown plants either ordered online or brought from you local garden centre. They grow to about 1.5metres high so you will need a large container.
The flowers are attractive white or pink bell shaped and fragrant too. The blueberry bush also gives very good autumn and winter colour, in both leaves and stems. Have a look at the choices at Blackmoor nurseries. Blue Pearl is a late season compact blueberry with lots of fruit and perfect for growing in small spaces.
Feed from the end of April. As the fruit starts to colour, cover the plants with netting to protect from the birds.
When pruning is required it is best done in the winter. When the bush is three years old start to remove one or two of the less productive stems to ground level. Thereafter remove about a quarter of old main stems each year.