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Guest Post – Planting tomatoes with children

I always buy my tomato plans and usually have a fab crop from some and not so good from others. So here is a fab guide from Ewan on how to grow tomatoes and get the children involved.

Planting Tomatoes
It’s great to get your children involved in the garden, curious children love learning and watching how things grow and taking care of plants can help teach a lot about responsibility. Growing vegetables is also a great way to get kids who are less keen on fruit and veg to give it a try. After all if they made it they have invested interest in it being good.
So if you’re looking to unleash the inner farmers in your family where do you start?
A not to tricky gardening project that should produce some delicious results is growing tomato plants. Most children like eating tomatoes (cooked if not raw), growing them comes with a fairly high success rate so you can avoid disappointment and tomatoes grow quite quickly so your children can see fast results. The best part is that we’re just coming up to tomato planting season now. Tomatoes are best planted after the last frost of the year, which with a bit of luck should be the end of this month.
If you’re feeling ready to get started here are some great ways to involve your kids in the process.
Find the perfect spot
Tomatoes don’t need a lot of space, but they do need a lot of sun so finding the perfect sunny spot is essential. So that’s the first task you can assign to your children, the week leading up to planting your crop, have your children monitor the way in which the sun moves across the garden during the day so that they can determine the spot the gets the most sun for longest. Remember you can grow tomatoes in grow bags so this really frees you up with where you can choose.
Planting the tomatoes
The easiest way to plant tomatoes is to buy tomato plants that are already growing, these are easy to plant and have a good chance of survival, plant them in soil mixed with fertiliser when they are about 15 cm tall, and plant each individual plant about half a meter away from one another. Older children will be able to plant tomatoes themselves, younger children will of course need more help but will no doubt enjoy digging in the dirt just as much.
Maintaining your tomato plants
Tomatoes need to be watered little and often, which is great for giving all your children their own jobs and responsibilities, make a schedule allocating who has to water the plants and when. If you have young children who you are trying to work on telling the time with this can be a great way of building on this skill.
You can also set a specific amount of water for your children to have to water the plants with if you want to work on measuring and volume with them.

Keeping the process fun
It can take around 12 weeks to grow tomatoes and sometimes the enthusiasm of children can be known to wane so to keep it interesting why not set a few competitions to keep up the fun. Allocate each plant to each member of your family and compete over things like, who can grow the biggest tomato, who can grow the most tomatoes, who can grow the weirdest shaped tomato and anything else slightly unusual you can think of.

Eating your tomatoes
When your tomatoes are all grown, and your prizes are all distributed all that’s left is to finally eat your home grown goodness. Tomatoes are great on their own or as an ingredient in so many child friendly dishes. The hardest part of the whole project just might be choosing how to eat them. If you find you’re self-struggling with this look out for my next guest post here where I’ll be discussing some of the best tomato recipes to make with children.

This guest post was provided by Ewan MacDougall who contributes who works with Tiger Log Cabins and works on their Garden Resources blog.

Thanks Ewan for that, when it finally stops raining I will be out planting :-) and looking forward to your recipes!!!

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