I’m working with innocent as a Sow & Grow UK Ambassador from February to April 2017. Follow the tag #sowandgrowUK for updates #sp
Almost a month ago, we began a fun little project at home, to grow, from seed, a selection of runner beans, baby carrots and cress. Innocent, together with the not-for-profit organisation Grow It Yourself (GIY) have launched a project to encourage kids to grow their own food and in turn make healthier choices. As big fans of innocent smoothies, we knew that the Sow & Grow project would be great fun and we weren’t wrong!
Sowing seeds indoors allows you to start the process a little earlier than you normally would outside plus young children can watch the process and document changes almost every day.
It’s a brilliant way for children to begin to learn how food is grown – if we can grow our own cress (which we’ve already been able to taste and eat), runner beans and baby carrots, imagine what else we can achieve!
This very simple project has really caught the children’s attention. My youngest, who is only two and a half, was so proud of his growing bean that he asked to take his bean into nursery to show his teacher and friends.
He’s convinced that soon we’ll see a giant!
The cress was definitely the quickest and the easiest to grow. All our pots were a success and we have been able to cut, wash and eat the cress already. We think the best thing to do is to grow one or two pots of cress at a time, as it begins to germinate and grow so quickly. You can then harvest the cress by simply cutting it. Then all you have to do is wash it delicately and then it’s time to eat!
Find my quick recipe for Salmon, Egg and Cress Sourdough Toasts here, which has become one of our favourite cress-inspired breakfasts!
Edward, 10, says:
“I loved to see how quickly the cress grew. It was definitely a fun experiment for us all. I learnt that I had to be very careful when I watered the cress, because the soil could quickly become too soggy. One of my pots didn’t grow too well because it had too much water in. We found a little watering can so that it was easier to water the seeds without pouring too much water in too quickly.”
So far, apart from planting the beans (as I explained here), the only thing we’ve had to do is water them daily (only a little bit each day as you don’t want to waterlog the cups).
During the third week of growing, our beans had a growth spurt, so we added some bamboo sticks to the pots and began tying the beans to the sticks with some Velcro tie (which we found at our local garden centre). You could also use some tweed.
A week later (week 4) we moved onto the next step of transferring the beans out into a bigger pot. At this stage, we bought a little bit more compost and a cone plant trainer. One of the beans seemed to have wrapped itself quite happily around the bamboo stick, so we left the bamboo stick and tied that onto the cone, secured with a little Velcro tie to support the fragile stem.
Two of the beans were easy to transfer into the big pot out of the smaller Sow and Grow cups. One of the beans seemed a little more settled, so we chopped the bottom off the cup and simply popped the whole pot (which is compostable) into the pot to grow. We’ll see whether leaving it in the pot and disturbing it less makes any difference to how well it grows.
It takes around three months in total to get the first crop and we’re already thinking of planting a few more beans so we have plenty over the summer.
The leaves are really growing well and there are lots of new shoots but so far, no runner beans.
We’re excited to see how these come on in the next week or two.
Elena, 7, says:
“The runner beans are also growing very quickly. We have been watering them and each day I can see how much they have grown. From a small bean, they have grown into very, very tall plants with big green leaves. We can see some smaller green leaves nearer to the top. We have tied the long, thin stems to a bean pole and now they have gone all curly around the pole. It looks like they are holding on tightly and giving the pole a hug! I think the beans are going to start growing out of the leaves, but I’m not sure.”
The carrot seeds were really tiny and we planted about 15 in each pot. You can see them starting to grow but they are still a bit too young to be transferred out so we’ve left them by the window to keep growing. In a week or two, I expect we’ll be able to start the thinning out process – this is where you remove about half of them so that the remaining carrots have space to grow.
Our baby carrots will be ready in about another four weeks – so check back here for my next update!
Once it gets a little warmer, we plan on cutting the bottom away from the cups and planting them outside in our little veg patch.
Elena, 7, says:
“We can see that the tops of the baby carrots are starting to grow, but they are growing quite slowly compared to the cress. I think I can see some baby carrot tops now! I am looking forward to seeing how the baby carrots will grow inside the cups. Will they grow up or down?
We have all learnt that for seeds to grow and survive they need:
- Water to synthesise
- Oxygen for photosynthesis and carbon dioxide for respiration
- Minerals (for protein and producing DNA)
- Sunlight – also needed for photosynthesis
- Space – seeds need enough space to grow
- Warmth – indoors is best for early spring
Here are some fun recipes to try with your home grown veggies:
- Salmon, Egg and Cress Sourdough Toasts – Ren Behan
- Home-Grown Carrot and Runner Bean Towers with Mint Yogurt Dip – Emily Leary for Sow&Grow UK
- Home-Grown Carrot and Mango Curry with 5 Minutes Naan Bread – Emily Leary for Sow&Grow UK
- Recipes and an Update from Grace at Amazing Eats
Come back and see how are seeds are doing in a few weeks’ time or follow our updates on Instagram:
Look out for the hashtag #sowandgrowUK
- Instagram @renbehan
- Twitter @renbehan
#ad I have been compensated for writing this post. All opinions are my own.
My kids still talk about the times we have grown cress in the past. I must get some more and add a few other seeds into the mix, especially love growing salads but tomatoes have always been a disaster. This is such a great project and the kids will be bound to enjoy eating what they have grown.
Camilla Hawkins says
It’s such a lovely thing to grow seedlings with your children. I have fond memories of my first ever cress sandwich that was made at school with the cress that we grew:-)
Becca @ Amuse Your Bouche says
Ooh, looks like a big success! I’m useless at growing anything – your kids have much better green thumbs than I do! 🙂
Ren Behan says
Thanks Becca, the cress was really easy and the beans are coming along nicely!
My two are fascinated by how the beans hug their sticks too! It’s all really lovely 🙂
Ren Behan says
It is, loved your recipes, too Emily.
It’s so lovely reading the kids’ comments as they watch and nurture! It’s so important for everyone to understand how food grows, and to have that experience of doing it themselves, especially now that most of us are so disconnected from the farming and the production of what we eat.
Ren Behan says
So true and this is a lovely introductory project.
Ceri Jones says
This is such a lovely (and important) project to get kids interested in learning how food is grown – so lovely to hear your lot are enjoying it all too! love hearing directly from them too!
Ren Behan says
Thanks Ceri, they enjoyed writing for the blog!
Sally - My Custard Pie says
How lovely to document this project – the pictures are beautiful and it records happy times together forever. So important to have children connect with food from seed to plate – it has an impact about healthy eating choices, food waste and everything in between.
Ren Behan says
Thank you Sally, yes a lovely record and so nice to work on a project that continues beyond the blog.