The best thing to do in the Spring with Children
Plant potatoes with kids in Spring for an enjoyable activity that kids of all ages 3-103 can get involved with! The act of burying the potatoes and then digging for treasure a few months later is always exciting. Mini competitions can be done – who has the best container who can draw the best picture, who can take the best photo – who has the best beastie on their potato! Perhaps you have family or friends that you can’t see just yet – you could challenge them to a virtual growing competition.
Without a doubt, one of the best things to do with children in the Spring time is planting vegetables and plants for them to grow. Children love to grow things! By creating their own space in your garden or allotment they will feel a sense of responsibility.
This amazing picture is the winning entry for a container from the Applecross Potato ChampionChips 2020 that Amy from Potato House was asked to judge. However supermarket bags for life also featured. As long as the pot is at least 30cm deep with good drainage they will get a good crop.
Potatoes are easy to grow and once April is here chitting becomes less important, although it is a useful exercise to show the children – they love the aliens coming from the potato. If you do chit you can leave them alone in the kitchen and tell them it is a very important job – they need to be put in size order going up then going down….labels need to be made, pictures drawn – this can take hours and shouldn’t be rushed! They have to shout “Chits Away” very loudly and often. (Following us for parental advice is optional – although the mess and the fun created is guaranteed!)
Earlies and second Earlies are best potatoes for Children to grow
We have lots of advice if you have never grown before. We suggest that children grow earlies or second earlies – more commonly known as new potatoes. This is for two reasons – they are ready earlier and so hopefully the enthusiasm will last and also there is less chance of disease hitting and so more chance of the experiment being a success. Potatoes can be planted straight in the ground as well as containers – just watch out for the over enthusiastic toddler putting 4 in together!
Many potatoes have human names, or indeed, many humans have potato names! As with all things if they are determined to grow something go with it! Perhaps we have a variety that is close to their name – last year a customer who bought some red Emmalie as his 8 year old wanted to grow some. There are no hard and fast rules for what to grow.
Easter Sunday was the traditional planting day, however Easter can vary so much each year. Potatoes can be planted all through April and well into May and so don’t fixate on the date so much. Earlies take around 100 days to mature and so potatoes planted in May will give a lovely late summer harvest. It is more important to make sure that the newly emerging shots aren’t frosted and as we all know the UK weather might not behave and send some hail stones and snow in April! The new shoots can be protected by a fleece or shredded newspaper.
We have 6 tuber nets and so if you have a few children they can all pick their own variety.
Plant potatoes with kids in Spring - You will need:
- ‘Chitted’ potatoes or unsprouted tubers
- Soil or compost
- Plant label
- Gardening gloves
- Willing child
Plant potatoes - What to do:
- The ‘chitted’ potatoes are ready for planting when the sprouts are about 2cm long and they can be planted outside from the end of March, all through April and into May.
- Plant either in a drill or in individual holes in the soil, 7–15cm deep, with the sprouts pointing upwards and cover with at least 2.5cm of soil.
- Space early potatoes as close as 30–38cm between the tubers, and 38–50cm between the rows. However, a wider row spacing of 50–60cm makes ‘earthing up’ much easier and is recommended if you have the space.
- They can also be grown easily in pots, tubs and dustbins if there are drainage holes – see a great video for this
- If you have different varieties, you should label them
- Please wash hands after touching soil
- Above all have fun and let the children look after the potatoes – we would love to see your pictures on our facebook page.