Salad days - the IoS schools gardening campaign

Our schoolkids are getting their hands dirty. Now, for home growers, Emma Townshend has devised a calendar to guide you from packet to plate. Yum!

This May bank holiday weekend, we are in the heart of spring, with the growing season going at full pelt. But don't despair if you haven't yet joined in our campaign; there is plenty of time to get your kids growing for the summer.

To start with, crops such as salads, peas and carrots are always sown in succession over the summer months to keep a good supply for the kitchen. So you can still start these from seed. For crops such as tomatoes, sowing time was earlier in the year, but garden centres and DIY shops are selling a great selection of small plants this year allowing you to skip the fiddly seed-sowing stage.

Finally, you still have time to start big main crops such as beetroot, kale and even potatoes, as long as you are prepared to eat them while they are still small, fresh and tasty. And how much of a hardship is that?

When you are growing crops with kids, the most important thing is to make sure that they succeed. There is nothing sadder than seeing your home-growing experiment go to pot because you haven't fed and watered regularly. Vegetable growing requires a special sort of attention: little and often is the best mantra. Most plants will need daily watering in a sunny spot, especially if you are growing in containers. And keep them weeded – just one intruder will take valuable resources from your little plants.

As far as pests go, make the fight against slugs and snails part of the game if you can. Older kids enjoy the idea of putting out slug pubs filled with beer to drown the little beasties, but for younger kids, get them to collect snails in a bucket before you dispose of them elsewhere.

Kids are notoriously impatient, so opt for "early" varieties which mature more quickly, or look out for specially-marked packets. In the meantime, use a digital camera to show them their plants are genuinely growing. A daily snapshot can become a fun part of pre-bathtime routine, along with the watering, and the images will make a great poster for their bedroom wall or for school Show and Tell.


Plenty of veg to be sown, from beetroot to tiny seed potatoes. Salad is a great place to start

Monday 4 Sow salad and seed potatoes in containers or flowerbeds.

Saturday 9 - Monday 11 Try lunar planting – the moon's position is just right to sow carrots, beetroot, and other root vegetables. Plus, add a line of radishes for faster cropping satisfaction. For more astronomical information see

Friday 15 Remember to water seedlings. Put in sunflower seeds for summer colour.

Wednesday 20 Begin nightly slug patrol. Order nematodes (natural slug killers) online, for spraying.

Sunday 24 Earth up the potatoes, adding more soil around the stems, to make the crop bigger.

Thursday 28 Check out veg plants at the garden centre. Try something colourful: ruby chard or purple-sprouting broccoli.


Have your own complete salad experience. Kids, particularly, love cherry tomatoes

Wednesday 3 Get grow-bags going with courgette and tomato plants. And try Tumbling Tom cherry tomatoes for the hanging baskets.

Sunday 7 Keep watering, and add a seaweed feed once a week now, too.

Wednesday 10 Sow summer peas such as Hurst Green Shaft, somewhere protected from direct light and mice – try the spare room windowsill.

Saturday 13 You should have some salad leaves and radishes already, so enjoy a first homegrown salad.

Saturday 20 Sow a few French beans in rich soil.

Friday 26 Buy organic tomato food for the grow-bag plants – they need extra potash once the first fruits have formed.


Thursday 2 Keep feeding and watering.

Monday 6 Sow pumpkin for Halloween.

Sunday 12 Put in canes for the peas, beans and sunflowers. Cover the tops to prevent accidents. Pinch out pea tops and eat them in a salad, or with a steak.

Wednesday 15 You should be beginning to get tomatoes now. Try to resist eating them till they are really ripe.

Wednesday 22 Plant mint for grown-ups to have with Pimm's. Look out for apple and Moroccan mint, and buy a plant of peppermint for mint tea too.

Wednesday 29 Should get first carrots and baby beetroot around now.


Saturday 1 Away on holiday? Ask neighbours to water in return for picking all they can eat.

Saturday 8 Courgettes should be in full flow now – dig out some recipes.

Monday 10 Make sure to pick all the peas and beans, to keep the plants producing.

Friday 14 If it's dry, water every day.

Thursday 20 Pick new potatoes planted in May now. Make homemade mayonnaise!

Tuesday 25 Think big: remove all but one fruit on the pumpkin plant.


By now, you should have too many courgettes. Try them in fritters, with an egg, mint and a tablespoon of flour

Wednesday 2 Change the salad mix as the weather cools: lamb's tongue, chicory and rocket.

Wednesday 9 Eat carrots. And sow another crop right now for an early start next year.

Sunday 13 Intensive feeding for the pumpkin with seaweed.

Sunday 20 Get next year's seed catalogues and start planning. Order garlic for autumn planting.

Tuesday 22 Allow last few tomatoes to ripen on the windowsill. Put bananas in a bag with the tomatoes, which encourages them.

Tuesday 29 Sow winter spinach outside.

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
Suggested Topics
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Careers Advisor

£24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Financial Controller

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for an experienced Fina...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / New Business Development / Full or Part Time

£20000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This global Events and Exhibiti...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Designer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity for someone wi...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific