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Best fruit and veg to grow in a school greenhouse

Best fruit and veg to grow in a school greenhouse

If you’re thinking about what to grow in the school greenhouse this year, go for fruits and vegetables. Most kids love getting their hands dirty, and growing their own food gives them skills for life that they can’t learn in the classroom. Gardening has a positive impact on their health and wellbeing too!

Here’s a handy list of carefully chosen fruit and veg that are perfect for growing in a school greenhouse.

How to decide which fruit and veg to grow at school?

Teenage kids in greenhouse gardening
Children of all ages can enjoy growing their own food
Image: Juice Flair/Shutterstock

Growing edible crops teaches children where their favourite foods come from – from sowing the tiny seeds through to preparing and enjoying the fruits of their labour. It opens up discussions about healthy food choices as well. As Ben Vanheems at GrowVeg explains:

“School gardens offer children the chance to get involved in growing food – a skill that will last them a lifetime… Teach the little ones to grow and they’ll grow up with a healthier attitude to food and an innate love for wildlife and the outdoors.”

These are some of the main things to consider: 

  • Seed size –larger seeds like runner beans are easier to handle. 
  • Flavour and colour – go for fruits and vegetables that look and taste exciting. 
  • Attention span – quick growing crops keep children better engaged. They’re also more suitable for progress reports and taking regular measurements. 
  • Term times – take care to choose a crop that ripens during term time rather than in the summer holidays. 
  • Water – think about water access from a tap, water butt or rain barrel. 
  • Comfort – make sure the greenhouse is a nice place for kids to spend time during lessons and breaks. Add benches for longer outdoor lessons. 

Most of all, make sure that whatever you choose is fun to grow. Over at The Good Life Crewe, Lizzie described the day that her young godson helped out on the allotment: “The mixture of pride and excitement on his face as we arrived home with armfuls of produce was so special.

Best fruit and veg to grow and harvest before summer holidays

Kid holding harvested radishes
Kids love harvesting and tasting their own fruit and veg crops
Image: Zaitsava Olga/Shutterstock

Here’s our list of quick-growing, tasty vegetables to start from seed early in the year. Getting them off to a strong start in the greenhouse means they’ll be ready to harvest before you break up for summer:

  • Radishes – enjoy a crop three weeks after sowing. Go for ‘French Breakfast 3’ or ‘Rainbow Mixed’ and, starting in February, sow every few weeks for a continuous harvest until summer.
  • Dwarf French beans – start in the greenhouse in early March and move into pots outdoors in April/May. Try dwarf French bean ‘Colour Mix’ or ‘Safari’.
  • Leaves – sow leaf mixes and rocket seeds in March and April. Start picking the leaves as soon as they grow to a good size.
  • Carrots – harvest three to four months after sowing. Colourful varieties like ‘Rainbow’ can be started off in greenhouse beds during February.
  • Beetroot – varieties like ‘Chioggia’ or ‘Rainbow mixed’ produce brightly coloured roots. Sow in February and harvest when they reach the size of golfballs.
  • Strawberry plants – plant ‘Honeoye’ in February and berries should start to appear four months later. The same plants will fruit for three years and extra strawberries that appear during the summer holidays make excellent thank you gifts for your watering volunteers.

Best fruit and veg to harvest after the summer holidays

Sowing seeds in module trays
Sow a few fruit and veg varieties that ripen in autumn
Image: Hanna Taniukevich/Shutterstock

If you start these crops off in your school greenhouse before the summer holidays, provided you have a volunteer to water them over the break, they will grow steadily and be ready to harvest in the autumn term:

  • Watermelon – sow ‘Mini Love’ seeds in early April. Train the vine up a trellis or allow it to spread over the greenhouse floor. Harvest your melons in September and October.
  • Strawberry seeds – sow ‘Florian’ between January and April. Pick the juicy fruits in September. 
  • Cucumbers – go for smooth-skinned greenhouse varieties like ‘Mini Munch’. If you sow the seeds in March you can expect crops from June to October. Gift any summer holiday fruits to your watering helpers.
  • Lambs lettuce – sow hardy ‘Favor’ in September and October in two staggered batches. The nutty leaves will be ready to pick through late autumn and winter.
  • Swiss chard – ‘Bright Lights’ produces fun multi-coloured stems. Sow your seeds between May and June, and move the young plants outside into pots. Start picking the leaves from late summer through to winter.
  • Blackberries – keep thornless ‘Opal’ outside the greenhouse in a hanging basket. Pick the fruit from the beginning of autumn until the first frost.
  • Lingonberries – plant drought resistant lingonberries in pots outside the greenhouse. The sweet berries ripen through autumn.

Don’t forget to sow a few companion flowers to attract the bees and distract pests. Brightly coloured nasturtiums look pretty and can be eaten in salads or used to decorate cupcakes. Easy to grow, they have a slightly peppery flavour. Sow the seeds directly into greenhouse beds near your crops.

We hope this list of tasty fruit and veg will help inspire growing projects in your school! If you have a gardening club and want advice on choosing the right school greenhouse, check out our greenhouse buyers guide. We’d love to hear how the kids get on. Please drop us a line via blog@waltons.co.uk or tag our social media channels.

Lead image: Robert Kneschke/Shutterstock

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