Getting children excited about gardening may sometimes be a tough task, but these examples of fruit and veg that are tasty, fun to grow and great to look at will surely give you a helping hand:
Swiss chard ‘Bright Lights’
Make a shallow drill in your soil about 1.5cm (½in) deep and thinly sow the seed into the drill. Cover the seed lightly with soil and water. If you are sowing more than one row, leave a space of 40cm (16in) between the rows. As the seedlings grow, thin them so they are 20cm (8in) apart – you can even use the thinnings in salads. Harvest the leaves and bright stems from 10 weeks after sowing; the small leaves can be used in salads and cooking.
Beetroot – Rainbow Beet collection
A mixture of five gloriously colourful sweet beetroot cultivars in purple, yellow, pink and white to grow together. When the seedlings are about 2.5cm (1in) high, thin out to leave one seedling per 10cm (4in) station. Water every 10–14 days in dry spells. Beetroot can also be grown easily in containers. For best results, sow beetroot little and often, harvesting the roots when they are young, tender and the size of a golf ball. The leaves can also be eaten.
Radish 'French Breakfast'
Space rows about 15cm (10in) apart. If the soil is dry, water it before sowing and allow to drain. Sprinkle the seed thinly 2cm (1in) apart and cover up with soil. If the plants grow crowded, thin them out. Flea beetles, slugs and snails might also like to eat your radishes, so perhaps protect them with horticultural fleece. Make sure you keep them well watered. Harvest as you need them just 4–8 weeks after sowing and add crunchiness to your salad.
There are so many to choose from: try the Rainbow Blend of four colourful baby plum cultivars, or perhaps ‘Tigerella’, a stripy one, ‘Gardener’s Delight’, a cherry tomato, or ‘Tumbling Tom’ for hanging baskets. Fill a small pot with compost, place the seeds on the top and cover. Place on a warm, sunny windowsill before planting outside in warmer weather. Biodegradable coir pots will allow you to plant out the tomatoes without disturbing the roots.
A bright splash of tasty colour to your garden. Prepare a square of soil about 60cm (24in) in width. Sow two or three seeds 2.5cm (1in) deep in the middle of each of your squares. Cover with a cloche and leave for two weeks or so after germination. When the seedlings develop, thin out. Courgettes are thirsty and need weekly watering. Harvest when they are about 10–12cm (4–5in) long, and keep picking so you will get a long cropping time.
When you are ready to sow, use a rake to level the surface and create a crumble-like consistency. Pick off any remaining weeds and debris. Place a cane or stake across the bed and lightly push it into the surface. This will create a straight drill (shallow depression), the depth of which should be as directed on the seed packet. The seeds should be spaced according to the instructions on the seed packet.
Other colourful edibles to try:
For something a little different, and for extra colour in the garden, strawberry 'Vivarosa' is one of the few strawberries to produce pink (instead of white) flowers, and carrot 'Purple Haze' is a strikingly dark purple cultivar with an orange centre.