Papa’s Magic Greenhouse – Growing Fruit and Veg
Growing up I spent a lot of time with my Granny and Papa Wilson, for two reasons, one – because mum and dad were both out working to provide for my brother and I, and two – I very much enjoyed the time I spent with them. My granny usually looked after four of us, so flinging us all out the house to play in the garden was a fairly regular occurrence (she did after all need peace to knit and watch the telly!)
I loved playing in my papa’s garden. He had always been an avid gardener, and his garden was a magnificent and elaborate Eden that as young children we couldn’t help but explore. Their garden was large, so my papa had sectioned different areas off with wooden fences and trellis that was covered in greenery. This gave us a plethora of different worlds to explore! My gran and papa were quite self-sufficient in that they grew a lot of their own fruit and veg as well. In exploring the garden, you would find: a rhubarb patch, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and a variety of currants. What my cousins and I didn’t manage to forage would go into my granny’s baking (she was an extraordinary baker!) or be gifted to the neighbours.
While the garden was exceptional, my all-time favourite place in the garden was my papa’s greenhouse. Inside, you would find: potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, raspberries and the roof was covered in grapevines, where the biggest grapes I’ve ever seen grew every summer. We spent a lot of time in that greenhouse eating what we could before we were caught!
Reminiscing about this time has made me consider the importance of being self-sufficient and having access to a balanced, healthy diet, especially for young children. As most of us will be spending a lot more time at home, it seems it would be the perfect opportunity to experiment and grow some of our own fruit and veg (especially with this wonderful weather we’ve been having!) It will also give children the perfect opportunity to spend some time outdoors in the fresh air, while exploring and discovering where the food we eat comes from.
Most supermarkets will currently have seeds and plants available to buy, but some fruit and veg can be regrown at home using scraps or the pieces we tend not to eat. Here are some ideas and tips for growing your own fruit and veg at home!
- Cut off the bottom piece of the onion that contains the roots and allow this to dry for a couple of hours.
Place in a pot with soil, making sure the bottom part (where the roots are) is covered. Keep your put in a sunny area.
Keep the soil moist until the bulb grows (this usually takes a few days!)
When new leaves have developed, remove from the pot, and divide the plant in two, making sure there is roots attached to both.
Replant in separate pots or in a bed. You have started growing two onions!
You could keep a daily log of the growth process. Get your child to document by taking a photo every day. Compare the photographs and discuss what changes have occurred!
- Find a potato that has a ‘seed potato’ on it (we commonly call them eyes!) Cut about two inches of skin with an eye off and allow this to dry overnight.
Plant them around four inches deep in soil (outdoors), making sure that the eyes are facing upwards.
Your new potato will hopefully start to grow! This usually takes a few weeks.
You might want to plant more than one seed potato! If you grow more than one potato – are they all the same size? Shape? Have a look at them and compare!
- Place the bottom part of the stalk in a bowl of water.
Keep it in a sunny area (a windowsill is good).
Sprinkle top with a little water twice a day for 4-5 days.
When roots and new leaves appear, plant outside in the garden.
You could observe every day and document how long it takes for the roots to appear!
- Save the tops of the carrots/parsnips and place in a jar of water.
New green tops will start to grow after a couple of days.
Let the roots grow around 2 inches before planting in the garden.
You might want to regrow more than one carrot or parsnip! Once the green tops have started sprouting, could you measure how tall they are growing? Keep a daily log of this and compare for each carrot/parsnip!
- Wash the seed with water.
Suspend the seed over a glass/jar of water (you could do this using toothpicks or straws) and only allow the bottom of the seed to touch the water.
Place the glass/jar in a warm dry place, but not in direct sunlight!
Check the water every day and top up if needed.
Roots and stems should appear after six weeks. Roots and stems should be kept at around 3 inches long until leaves appear.
Plant in garden or pot, only covering the bottom half of the seed with soil.
This one takes a lot longer than the rest! You could take a photograph once a week and compare at the end. Discuss the changes with your child.
- Rinse the tomato seeds with water and leave to dry.
Plant your seeds in soil (in a pot) and leave in a sunny area.
Water the soil 3-4 times a week (don’t drown the seeds!)
When seedlings sprout a few inches, replant in the garden.
Again, you could document this process using a daily/weekly log or camera. This would also be a good opportunity to teach your child about caring for plants and why they need water and sunlight.
- Collect a handful of seeds and plant them in a pot.
Keep the pot in a warm, sunny place and water every day.
Peppers will grow fast, so once seedlings are around 8 inches tall, plant them in the garden.
Tell your child when the seedlings are 8 inches tall, they will be ready to plant in the garden. Once they start to sprout, measure them every day and give your child the responsibility of deciding when they are ready to be transplanted to the garden. (You might need to remind them about how tall they should be daily!)
- Save the seeds from a few apples (the more apples the better chance of success!)
Wrap the seeds in a wet paper towel and seal in a plastic bag (sandwich bag would be good).
Keep the bag in a cool place with little sunlight.
It takes around a month for apple seeds to germinate but check them every week and make sure the paper towel is still moist!
When sprouts begin to appear, your apples are ready for planting in the garden! Plant them 1-2 inches deep and water every day.
Ask your child why they think some plants like warm, sunny places while others like cold and dark? Discuss this and research on the internet!
I hope you enjoy growing your own food!
Blog post written by Amy W.