Growing vegetables with your child

From the earth to the plate – the sky is the limit for keen young gardeners. Here's how to encourage a love of gardening and growing your own food

Growing vegetables with your child

1. Selecting seeds
Despite the best efforts of Popeye most young children still seem to have an innate aversion to bitter leafy vegetables such as spinach, and probably won’t be particularly enthused about the idea of growing them. Focus instead on sweet fruit and vegetables more suited to a child’s sensitive palate such as strawberries and carrots.

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2. Fun and games
There is no getting around the fact the gardening involves some hard graft, but you can encourage your child to get his hands dirty by turning it into a game. Become a band of pirates on your patch, digging in the ground and burying the spoils of your adventures, marking the spot with an X. When the time comes to dig up root vegetables such as potatoes, you really will feel like you are unearthing hidden treasure.

3. Collecting critters
While slugs and snails can cause untold misery for gardeners facing a patch of holey lettuce, many little boys and girls love to play with creepy crawlies and will be more than happy to collect errant wildlife and set it free, preferably somewhere far away if you wish to remain popular with your gardening neighbours.

4. Useful resources
There are plenty of green-fingered children’s websites providing games, quizzes and printable activities for use in the garden. Try Activity Village or the BBC Gardening With Children sites for inspiration.

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5. The fruits of your labour
While gardening as a stand-alone activity can be great fun, surely nothing could be as gratifying as creating a delicious meal from vegetables grown by your own fair hand? Get the whole family in the kitchen to cook together with your home-grown goodies. As well as being a fun, bonding activity this should help your child gain a clearer understanding of food and its origins.