With the forecast looking brighter, kids in a (hopefully) sunny frame of mind with schools reopening, and the first sniff of spring in the air, there couldn’t be a better time to sow some seeds.
Not only is gardening wonderfully therapeutic (and something little ones can get involved in too), but there’s nothing more rewarding than watching those green shoots burst into life.
Pick up a packet of wooden plant labels when you bag the following seeds, and watch your garden grow…
Something the whole family can enjoy, sun-loving tomatoes can be grown in pots or hanging baskets, as well as filling in any gaps in your borders. If you’re a beginner, bush tomatoes are the easiest as you don’t need to stake them. Think red, juicy fruit cascading from lush green leaves – you can even host your own ‘biggest homegrown tomato’ competition.
2. Pea shoots
If you’re short on space and daylight, pea shoots are a safe and tasty bet – and are a speedy option. They only need a couple of hours of sunlight a day and within two to three weeks, your babies – all soft and twirly – will be two to three inches tall and ready to harvest. Delicious in a fresh, spring salad, stir-fries or delicate garnish in pea risotto.
The great thing about growing chillies is these little hotties are easy to nurture from seed, happy to bed down in a well-drained pot and feel right at home on a sunny balcony or patio. And while the mild, mellow ones might still be a bit too fiery for the kids’ taste, there’ll be whoops of delight when the first bright fruits make themselves known. And of course, the grown-ups will love them in a pizza or fresh salsa sauce.
With big seeds that are easy for little ones to handle, nasturtiums are a doddle to grow in window boxes and containers. They love free draining soil in a sunny position and grow fast – so you shouldn’t have to wait too long for them to start climbing all over the place. If you sow them now, their deep orange and red blooms will flower from June to September. An added bonus, their edible flowers (peppery, a bit like watercress) can be used in salads or as garnishes.
Round-shaped beets come in a rainbow of colours and not only are they sweet and flavoursome, but you don’t need a greenhouse to raise this tasty, healthy crop. Fun to sow direct outside, it’s then a case of watching out for their green and purple tinted leaves poking up. Look out for Beetroot Boltardy seeds or ‘slow to bolt’ which means they’re resistant to premature flowering. Pull up when they’re the size of a golf ball to eat in a goat’s cheese salad or homemade soup.