Children love watching plants grow – from that miraculous moment when a tiny seed’s first leaves emerge from the ground – to enjoying the flowers and fruits that appear later in the season.
Professional garden designer Nic Wilson of dogwooddays thinks it’s a great idea to get kids involved with gardening at an early age. Here’s what she and her kids made of Thompson & Morgan’s Mr Men and Little Miss seeds when they tried them out at home.
Encouraging kids to sow and grow
Last year, Thompson & Morgan partnered with Mr Men and Little Miss to produce a selection of seeds and gardening products to encourage kids to grow their own. The range was launched in the fabulously colourful Mr Men themed garden at Hampton Court Flower Show – a hugely successful space loved by adults and kids alike.
The seeds include easy to grow flowers, fruit and vegetables such as Little Miss Sunshine’s Sunflower ‘Helios Flame’, Mr Sneeze’s Pepper ‘Boneta’, Mr Strong’s Broccoli ‘Bell Star’ (which Mr Strong suggests should be eaten with cheesy scrambled eggs for a fortifying meal) and Mr Tickle’s ‘Extra Curled’ Cress – simple enough for even the smallest growers to handle.
Best fruit and veg seeds for kids
My kids decided to start with Mr Happy’s Tomato ‘Sweet Apéritif’ – because tomatoes are one of our favourite summer snacks. We sowed the seeds in peat-free compost in newspaper pots that we’d made ourselves, and then popped them into the windowsill propagator.
Each day the kids checked the pots, and there was great excitement on the morning that the first leaves unfurled. Indoor germination makes it easy for children to get involved in watering the plants each day and watching the seedlings develop.
This week we’ll be pricking the seedlings out and the children will be growing them on in their bedrooms. We’re planning to plant them out after the first frosts and hoping for big bowlfuls of cherry tomatoes later in the summer! We’ve also sown Little Miss Giggles’ Cucumber ‘Diva’ which should give us plenty of small fruits for picnics and lunchboxes.
Best flower seeds for kids
For a shot of colour, we decided to sow Mr Small’s Nasturtium Whirlybird Mixed. Nasturtiums are one of the best flowers to grow with young children as they have such cheerful flowers. Kids love the fact that they have edible peppery leaves and they also enjoy harvesting the petals to add to pretty summer salads.
Another flower with brightly coloured, edible petals is Mr Clever’s Calendula ‘Fruit Twist’. Calendula readily self-seeds in the garden, so in subsequent years it’s fun to see what new colours emerge as the seedlings mature.
Gardening skills for life
Growing these easy crops and flowers teaches children how to sow seeds, prick-out seedlings and look after plants once they’re outside in the garden or greenhouse. The sense of achievement when they pick their first tomato or create a posy with their own flowers is enormous.
Even better, it has encouraged my kids to enjoy fruit and vegetables that they would have otherwise refused to try. And with 25% of each packet sold going to the Children With Cancer UK charity, growing these seeds is sure to bring a smile to everyone’s faces – not just Mr Happy’s!
If you’ve been inspired to get your kids or grandkids out into the garden this year, the Mr Men and Little Miss seed range includes:
- Little Miss Splendid’s Poppy ‘Flanders’
- Mr Tall’s Runner Bean ‘Moonlight’
- Little Miss Princess’ Pea ‘Terrain’
- Mr Clever’s Calendula ‘Fruit Twist’
- Mr Small’s Nasturtium Whirlybird Mixed
- Little Miss Giggles’ Cucumber ‘Diva’
- Mr Happy’s Tomato ‘Sweet Apéritif’
- Mr Tickle’s ‘Extra Curled’ Cress
- Mr Strong’s Broccoli ‘Bell Star’
- Mr Sneeze’s Pepper ‘Boneta’
- Little Miss Sunshine’s Sunflower ‘Helios Flame’
- Mr Funny’s Sweetcorn ‘Picnic’
- Mr Bump’s Squash ‘Harrier’
Nic Wilson is a writer, garden designer and Garden Media Guilds Awards nominee (Beth Chatto Environmental Award, 2019). She enjoys growing flowers and unusual fruit, vegetables and herbs, and loves to encourage nature into the garden. She blogs at www.dogwooddays.net, and Guardian Country Diarist based in North Hertfordshire.
She works for BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine and her writing has featured in anthologies, journals and magazines including The English Garden, The Garden (RHS Magazine), BBC Wildlife Magazine and the John Clare Society Journal.