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5 things to bear in mind when you start growing vegetables with kids

5 things to bear in mind when you start growing vegetables with kids

 

Mid June we are already, we are reaching the end of spring here in Kent, can you believe it! If you are new at growing vegetables, you might think it is too late to start for this growing season. Well, I have got some good news for you: it is not too late yet! There are lots of things you still can grow now. You have to be more careful though, there is less time for mistakes. Read on for some advice on growing vegetable with the kids this summer still.

5 things to bear in mind when you start growing vegetables with kids:

Growing Speed

Choose at least one or two types of vegetables to grow as quickly as possible. Kids  can run out of patience and enthusiasm quickly. The warmer weather will help the seeds to sprout more quickly as long as you keep them well moist. Examples of fast growers are: radishes,  spring onion, lettuces, carrots, peas and chard.

Success

Choose something with a great chance of success. Some vegetables are more prone to pests than others. From the list above all are great. Chard is a little more prone to pests. Herbs are great, most bugs seem to be put off by their smell. The peas are more vulnerable to drought, but apart from that, they are pretty strong and you can eat both the peas and the delicate little sweet leaves.

Mind the growing calendar

Have a good look at a good growing calendar for you area to make sure your produce has time to mature before the weather cools down. Paddock Allotments has got a great one for the whole year, have a look at this month’s page if you are planning to start now.

Let them pick a vegetable for themselves

If you are planning to grow something with the kids, of course, they need to decide on what you are gowing as well. Let them pick a vegetable but try to pick one that fits the first three points as well to avoid later disappointment.

Grow some vegetables they don’t like

The kids don’t need to like all the vegetables they are growing. First of all it is as much fun to be able to proudly offer their homegrown produce to somebody else. Maybe even more importantly, this might just be the way they will start to enjoy it. They will have sown the seeds themselves, they will have waited for the seedlings to sprout, they will have looked after the plant: water it, pull of bugs, take away weeds,… All that care might just have caused enough curiosity to at least try a bit and even try to like it. It makes them so proud if they do!

 

That is it, I hope you will enjoy growing vegetables with the kids and hopefully end up with some great produce to enjoy!

If you want to read more on this subject you mind want to read this article I wrote about why we grow vegetables at home as well.

   

 

 

 

Sow, grow and eat with kids: carrot and broccoli recipes

Sow, grow and eat with kids: carrot and broccoli recipes

Spring is really here now, the sun is out, temperature is up, some paddling pools have even come out already! The fun in the vegetable garden can really begin now! Because it has become warmer, the vegetables grow so much quickly, finally things are really moving. It is the perfect time to think about what you will be cooking with all those lovely homegrown vegetables.

Last week I started to write a list of recipes for homegrown produce. In part 1 of this series, we covered radishes, rhubarb and strawberries.  This is part two of my list of recipes for the produces from our and your own garden, you will find ideas for cooking your homegrown carrots and broccoli. You will find some little tips and tricks for growing these veggies as well.

Carrots

Ok, growing carrots is not too difficult I have found. It is a good idea to sow onion or garlic of some sort next to the carrots. Their smell is said to help keep the carrot fly away.  We are using an old vegetable plot and although we add compost every year, dig it in quite deeply and loosen the soil, it is not quite deep enough to grow straight and long carrots it seems. Our carrots usually are short and fat and look like this:

They are cute, they are funny and they are very tasty. The kids love to harvest them because of their bright colour I guess and they come out easily. The downside though, is cleaning these little chunks. There is a lot of scrubbing to do and peeling can be very tricky.

If you are growing your vegetables in containers or you have filled your plot in recently with a good deep layer of compost and soft soil you may get yours a longer and more straight.

Because my kids really like carrots I don’t go through much effort to prepare them, we keep it very simple. We have them very often simply cleaned and cut into sticks to dip in hummus whilst waiting for the dinner to be ready. The sticks are perfect for lunch boxes I find. The other most ordinary way we have them is grated roughly as a salad.

Personally, I like carrots best though when they are roasted. To roast carrots, simply clean them and toss them in a little bit of olive oil, season with some pepper (possibly salt) and roast in the oven for about 20 minutes depending on the thickness of your carrots. If your carrots are very thick slice them lengthwise.  They may end up like these prettiest carrots in the world.

You can also use them in soup, like in carrot soup or this roasted tomato soup.

You also need carrots in this spring roll recipe I wrote for the kids to make.

If you prefer baking, you might want to try this recipe for Apple and Carrot hot cross buns from Sneaky Vegs.

Broccoli

Moving on to broccoli, which is a more tricky vegetable for me in two ways – growing broccoli is a lot harder and making the kids like it as well is the other one! We have grown broccoli with some success, but it is hard to keep the bugs off. Keep an eye on the leaves and have a look for little larvae filling their little tummies! Luckily broccoli plants are pretty strong and resilient as well. Despite all the holes in the leaves, they kept growing and producing beautiful heads last summer. I have planted some lavender amongst the plants hoping their lovely smell confuses them, but I may need to use cayenne pepper according to this article about controlling pests on broccoli.

Here are a few ideas to prepare broccoli for the family:

Steamed and roasted with almond slivers

Steam the broccoli for a few minutes only. Rinse it afterwards in ice water to avoid after cooking and to keep the colour nice bright and green. Then stir fry gently with some slivered almonds and anchovies.

 

 

 

 

 

Fried rice with chicken kebab

Fried Rice with chicken kebab

One of the first recipes on my blog was this fried rice witch chicken kebab and  broccoli. For this recipe, steam the broccoli again and then add it to the fried rice. Place it in the oven for 15 minutes to bring out even more lovely taste out of the broccoli.

 

 

 

Purple Sprouted Broccoli

This year we are growing purple sprouted broccoli, which I find even tastier. The biggest difference is in the stems, they are thin and elegant, more delicate and even more important for the kids: very easy to chew! Our own plants are only little at the moment and suffering from pests again, but I had the privilege to go and see these on Oakapple Farm.  There I saw the purple sprouted broccoli growing in all its glory there. Hopefully ours will look similar one day…

 

 

Purple sprouted broccoli with garlic and sesame

For this purple sprouted broccoli with garlic and sesame, steam or boil the broccoli again briefly, 5 minutes will probably be enough.

Cool down with ice water afterwards.

Warm up some oil of choice into a frying pan, fry the garlic on it’s own for minute or so.

Then add the broccoli and gently stir. Sprinkle the sesame seeds over the broccoli in the pan.

Serve and enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

That is it for now as far as I am concerned. Next time I’ll bring more recipes for our home produce. Just before you go, I am a bit curious about what are you growing? Please let me know in the comments and do share ideas about what to cook with it when ready? Do you have top tips to fight pests, please do let us know!

Sow, Grow and Eat with Kids: Recipes for the produce

Sow, Grow and Eat with Kids: Recipes for the produce

If you have started growing vegetables in early Spring, May is the month you might be enjoying your very first harvest. Depending on the weather it may take a bit longer still. If you have the kids involved they may be getting a little impatient by now or worse, they might have lost interest!?

This is probably a good time to look forward to what you can be looking forward later in Spring and in the Summer. I made an overview of what we have grown last year and what we did with our harvest. If you or the kids are feeling impatient or discouraged by the lack of progress, have a look at it and I promise it will boost the motivation again. In no time you’ll have the kids in their wellies digging again and pulling weeds!

I’ll start with the early season produce in this post and will follow it up with the later ones in the coming posts.

Radishes

The radishes were first to be harvested in our garden in Spring. Originally sown because Peter Rabbit did a fantastic job promoting it in his Cbeebies programme. He would do anything for some juicy radishes! I have some funny pictures of the kids trying our homegrown radishes at first, straight form the garden and finding them too bitter, the faces!!  But when sliced up thinly and added to salads or after I pickled them in a sweet kind of pickle they gained succes. Click through for  the recipe for the pickled radishes.

Radishes by Severien Vits

Pickled Radishes from More Than Just Carrots

 

Rhubarb

Rhubarb is another one of the early birds. Last year our plant was still very young and the yield was limited, but this year it has become a lot stonger and we have enjoyed quite a bit of it already. We have made rhubarb compote with orange juice and the rhubarb crumb bars which were super yummy!  If you are desperate for something sweet, I can highly recommend you this recipe for a rhubarb and almond cake as well.

 

 

 

 

 

Rhubarb Compote  Rhubarb from More Than Just Carrots

 

Strawberries

Our strawberries harvest was slightly disappointing last year while they were very popular indeed. Result; hardly any pictures available, they were eaten before I had the chance to take any pictures. For this lovely strawberry birthday cake I had to find the strawberries elsewhere… This year on the other hand, the plants have grown enormously and we have replanted quite a few of the runners, so we should have more this year! Maybe not quite enough to make the Chia Jam, but definitely enough to have on our chocolate sandwiches!

Strawberry tart
strawberries
Strawberry plants year 2

 

Chocolate spread
Strawberries on your (chocolate) sandwich

 

Chia Jammy Dodgers from More Than Just Carrots
Strawberry Chia Jam

 

To be continued.

These is the produce that I will discuss in the following posts:

  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Lettuce
  • Shallots
  • Blueberries
  • Cucumber
  • Parsnip
  • Tomatoes
  • Blackberries
  • Apples
  • Pumpkins
  • Beetroot
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kids in the garden kids in the garden

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Beetroot

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kids in the garden

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koken met kinderen

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taster plate

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