Thursday, 21 April 2016
Grow your own
Growing your own is a great way to get little ones into good eating habits: plant now, eat later
Growing fruit and vegetables at home can provide your family with a cost-cutting and fun way to eat healthily, while encouraging children to spend more time outside. Produce can be picked out of the garden and popped onto plates or into pans, and not only could you even reduce your shopping bills, but your children will feel a real sense of achievement from growing their own meals.
Spending time gardening is a great form of exercise and it teaches children about where their food comes from. Children are also much more likely to continue with healthy eating and enjoy vegetables that they have helped grow, and it gets them into the habit of composting and recycling from a young age.
Rocket Gardens founder Mike Kitchen took 18 months off work to get stuck into growing vegetables and living off the land. This inspired Mike to create a product that offered families and children the chance to eat well without needing to give up quite so much time. A Rocket Garden is a box full of baby plants reared on the Kitchen’s Cornish farm. Here, Rocket Garden offer their top tips for growing your own:
Plant: April – August
Harvest: June – December
Plant rows of carrots six inches apart in warm dry ground – spring is normally a good time to do this. Firm in around the plants and water carefully if the ground is dry. Remove weeds whenever they appear, don’t leave them to flourish. Lift the first baby carrots as they reveal themselves, in order to further increase space for the remaining crops. Carrots are super tasty steamed and eaten with butter and pepper immediately after being harvested from the ground.
Plant and harvest all year round!
Most herbs are fairly easy to grow, requiring a sunny location, fairly well drained soil and regular picking to keep the plant compact. You can grow them in a garden, pots, containers, window boxes or even hanging baskets. Weeding should be carried out regularly and trimming of invasive herbs like mint should be taken care of before a problem occurs. Place your herbs as close to the kitchen as possible so fresh herbs are never far away.
Plant: April - July
Harvest: June - October
Plant your seedlings approximately 3 feet (90cm) apart, ideally using mulching film around the base of the plant which keeps down weeds, retains soil moisture and keeps growing courgettes off the earth. Smaller courgettes are more flavoursome and the fruits will grow extremely quickly. So unless you want your courgettes to turn into giant marrows you should check and pick them regularly. A well grown courgette plant can product 20 or so courgettes.
Plant: March – August
Harvest: May – December
Potatoes can be successfully grown in potato planters, barrels, tubs or other containers. Use a multi-purpose potting compost mixed with fertiliser. Put a 10cm layer of your chosen compost in the container, then place 2-4 potato tubers on top. Cover with a further 10cm of compost mix and water and when stems reach a height of about 15cm, add another 10cm of compost mix. Repeat this until the plants are about 5cm below the rim of the container, then add a final layer of compost mix. Keep the container well-watered and harvest your potatoes when plants have flowered. Carefully dig about beneath the foliage to check on the size of the potatoes before harvesting.
Plant: April – July
Harvest: August – October
Onions like an open sunny spot with well-drained soil which has been fertilised. Onion seedlings grown in biodegradable pots can be sown directly into the ground without the need to remove the pot, making your life lots easier! Space the pots 12 inches (30cm) apart each way and be sure to regularly hand-weed or hoe between the plants. Water when the weather is dry but stop watering when the onions have swollen.
Plant: April – June
Harvest: July – October
There are various ways of growing runner beans and a wigwam is a good way to do so when space is at a premium. Alternatively, you can use bamboo canes approximately eight feet in length. A rich, light, well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter is ideal for this popular treat, which should be watered well during periods of dry weather.
Plant: April – July
Harvest: June – September
Soon after delivery you should soak your strawberry runners in water for half an hour, which will bring them back to life. Plant them so that the spot where the shoot meets the root is level with the soil, because if they are planted too deeply they run the risk of rotting. Grow under fleece if you are keen to produce an earlier crop, for added protection. You can also plant strawberries through black polythene which will help stop weeds from interfering with your strawberry plants.
For more information, and to purchase a Rocket Garden visit rocketgardens.co.uk