Green Fingers

Gardening reaps many rewards, both to admire and devour. It’s also fun for all the family – and now’s the perfect time to start

Kids get going with Let’s Grow

 

Morrisons Let’s Grow programme is designed to help schools excite and educate children about gardening. For every £10 you spend in store you will receive a Let’s Grow voucher, which your child’s school can then redeem on a range of gardening equipment. So far…

  • Over £14 million worth of equipment has been given to schools across the country.
  • Over 18,000 schools have placed an order.
  • Over 3.7 million sunflower seeds have been ordered.
  • Schools have claimed over 98,880 trowels.
  • Children are examining mini bugs and beasties with the 16,852 magnifying glasses given away.

Brighten your garden with these fab ideas

This reliable friend will always be outside with you… Gnome, £2

Encourage bees, ladybirds, spiders and other creatures into your garden. Insect house, £3

Kids will love growing plants in their very own characterful pot. Animal planter, £1

Even hard graft is appealing thanks to these colourful tools. Stainless steel hand trowel and hand fork, £2 each

Little knees like something soft to rest on. Kid’s Kneeler Pad, £1

All tooled up

A spade and fork are essential for digging and planting, while a hoe will make light work of weeding. The only other tools you’re likely to need are a trowel and a pair of secateurs. Plus here’s our top 10 foolproof plants to get you started:

  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes
  • Radishes
  • Carrots
  • Potatoes
  • Courgettes
  • Beetroot
  • Mixed salad leaves
  • Dwarf French beans
  • Peppers (sweet and chilli)

Plot to plate

There’s a bewildering variety of fruit, vegetables and herbs. Go for those you have space for and time to look after. If you’re just starting out, choose crops that are low-maintenance and fast-growing, rewarding you with a harvest in next to no time: radishes, rhubarb, carrots and mixed salad leaves are all super-easy. If you have a small garden, be realistic and go for compact plants that can be grown in pots, hanging baskets or window boxes, such as tumbling tomatoes, spring onions and dwarf French beans.

Or if your kids love pizza how about helping them to grow some of their favourite pizza toppings in a large pot? Cherry tomatoes, sweet peppers, basil and oregano are all a doddle to grow.

  • Either start plants off by growing from seed, or save time and buy ready-grown seedlings. To pot them up, fill a 30cm flowerpot with multipurpose compost.
  • Dig a small hole at the back for the pepper, place the tomato plant in front and the herbs to each side.
  • Keep the pot in a frost-free place outside until late spring, then move it into a sunny spot. Water daily and feed the tomato and pepper plants once a week with liquid tomato fertiliser.

Get started here

Spring is the ideal time to start making the most of your outdoor space. There are many flowers, vegetables and varieties of fruit you can plant now, which will provide a sensational display of colour or produce that’s good to eat in just a few weeks. What’s more, you don’t need a huge garden – just a few pots on a tiny balcony will do.

Growing your own plants from scratch is easier than you might think and everyone can get involved. Kids in particular find gardening fascinating. They get a thrill out of owning and looking after their own little plot or tub. And what better way is there to get children to eat more fruit and veg than by serving up a dish containing produce that they’ve grown themselves from scratch?

If you’ve never grown edibles before it might seem a little daunting. But it’s actually dead easy and many plants can be grown even in the smallest terraced back garden, patio, roof space or even on the shady balcony of a high-rise flat. Just pick your plants carefully and grow them in pots, troughs or a raised bed.

Bring on the wildlife

You don’t need a garden to attract wildlife – a rectangular planter on a window ledge will do. Fill it with wildlife-friendly plants; thyme, parsley, rosemary, chives and sage are all irresistible to butterflies and pollinating insects. Cover the top with a layer of grit (spiders and other mini beasts will hide in the gaps) and add a shallow saucer of water for flying insects to drink from.

If you do have a garden there are many seed mixes available that contain a number of fast-growing flowers such as poppies or corn marigold that look good and will attract butterflies, bees and other welcome creatures. Start by removing any weeds, fork over the site and rake level until the texture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Scatter seeds over the surface then gently rake them into the soil. Give them a good watering and they should germinate within four weeks.

Blooming easy

Growing flowers from seed is surprisingly easy – try hardy geraniums, sweetpeas or sunflowers. Fill small flowerpots with seed compost, level with your hand and firm by pressing down gently on the surface with the base of a similar sized pot.

Sprinkle seeds lightly over the surface (check the packet for any specific instructions about spacing them out), then cover with a thin layer of compost. Add a label so you remember what you’ve sown, water them and place a clear plastic freezer bag over the pot, securing it with an elastic band. Place on a bright windowsill until seedlings appear. 

When the seedlings are about 2cm tall, transfer each into its own pot. These can be planted into the garden outdoors in late spring or moved into a larger container.