What can I grow in the garden during late summer?
Late summer to early autumn is the perfect time to get plants established to see full growth next year. I am of course not talking about annual plants for the spring but the biennials and perennials which will get their root growth done in the ideal conditions now to become strong healthy plants come early next year. This will also be a useful experience for kids to see how their annual plants will die but what we plant now will grow back after the winter. So what are some fun plants for kids to get started now? Well there are plenty of options you can pick up from a garden centre or start from seed but I will list some of the easier plants to grow.
A selection of our favourite, child friendly, late summer plants.
Getting the most commonly mentioned out of the way first. It’s the first plant always recommended for young children and for good reason, their berries are kid sized with an amazing flavour. There are a number of cultivars to choose from, I suggest one with large berries. I like Regina, you can pick up a pack from Suttons seeds. When you sow the seed, make sure not to bury them, they say 3mm depth but the seeds want light through the soil surface for germination. Just sprinkle them onto the soil surface and sprinkle a little earth on top of that. If you buy the seed from elsewhere or collect your own, don’t forget they need stratification so stick them in the freezer before use.
You probably want to buy a plant from someone rather than start from seed. The black currants have an amazing scent but can be a little tart, kids like to be impatient and eat a crop right off the plant. You may prefer a red currant but I highly recommend a white currant. Red currants are sweeter than black and whites are sweeter still. A ripe white currant is nearly clear like a marble and because of their colour they don’t attract birds so there is no need to cover your plants with netting.
Again an obvious one, again nice and easy to grow. These will be ripe right at the end of the season after the strawberries. Kids will learn to associate the beginning of autumn with the memories of blackberries and it’s a nice way for them to get a feel for the seasons. Some of you may already have blackberries growing everywhere near you. Whether you do or don’t I highly suggest growing a cultivar of thornless blackberry, they are a lot of fun for kids to pick and nice and safe for toddlers to join in.
I think that’s enough from fruit, now how about some nice smelling herbs. Starting with the toughest, mint is very easy to grow. There are many cultivars of mint with a huge range of minty smells from banana to pineapple and even chocolate. It’s easy to find something the kids will love. We prefer the black peppermint for its’ dark foliage and mint intensity. Be warned though, mint can be very invasive, if you want to plant in the ground try burying a large pot to put it in so the roots don’t spread.
It’s often called a mood enhancer and makes a lovely tea with honey for kids. This a favourite of our children who love the strong scent of lemon. In addition there are variegated cultivars which look pretty but variegated plants tend to be less shade tolerant.
Again wonderful in teas, especially for calming younger children. Flowers are cut and dried and can be stored for months for use in teas. Chamaemelum nobile, commonly referred to as ‘roman chamomile’ is the perennial and not to be confused with matricaria chamomilla which is an annual. A simple way to tell the difference is to rub the leaves as the leaves of roman chamomile are scented. If you can find one, look for ‘double chamomile’ which is a roman chamomile cultivar which supposedly produces double the flowers.
Last to mention is stachys byzantina (lambs ear) which was a personal favourite of our daughter when she was little. The leaves are very soft and wonderful for young children to touch as well as being tall and very pretty. Truly a great plant to intrigue young minds about plants.
I could go on forever I think about all the wonderful plants you could grow but that is enough for now. I hope you and your children enjoy the blog and your growing. Please join us on social media, we would love to see what you are growing with your children.