Hi - we have a veg plot we are in process of clearing - want to start easy/small/good for kids to help - what 3 or 4 things can I be planting that will flourish? quite shady but previous owners did manage to grow stuff
Buy a book. There are billions of good books around on family veg growing.
For the kids grow something they actually like eating, and something that gets big quickly. Pumpkins are good for kids although may struggle if its really shady. Potatoes are pretty tolerant and good weed suppressors. Carrots are surprisingly tricky and the slugs love them. Peas are good once they get going, encourage the kids to eat them out of the pods don't bother with harvesting them.
Dig the ground over, clear out all the weeds, dig in soil improver of some sort, then cover it with plastic or cardboard until you can plant in it or the weeds will just come straight back. Do it a bit at a time.
Strawberries and carrots - if you want to hook the kids into helping, they're great things to be able to eat instantly (or at least once you've rinsed teh soil off). Peas and beans are good fun too.
For preparing the soil, make sure you get out any roots of grasses and dandelions etc, and they're a PITA to remove once you've got veg growing.
What sort of soil do you have, over what sort of rock? It can make a difference to how well things grow or what preparation you need to do.
As a general rule though, you can't beat digging in some peat free compost, breaking down big clumps of soil and digging it over deep if you have very clayey claggy soil. Digging in organic material (compost or horse manure) is good too for most soils.
How big is the plot, has it been dormant for a while?
For fast results, plant radishes (you can get multi coloured ones now, not just red) and lettuces. You may also like to try something weird like Walking Stick Kale (available from Thompson and Morgan), and perhaps giant sunflowers, for fun and for seeds :D
Climbing french beans. Yummy off the plant, good yields, easy to grow, only issue you may have is with aphids.
Mange tout, like peas but eat the whole pod so there's more crop.
Raspberries. Dead easy to grow and kids will love PYO desserts.
Chard/perpetual spinich beet. Easy to grow, cut-and-come-again and keeps going all winter.
Potatoes. They don't need to be "seed" potatoes: Wait til you have some sprouted spidery potatoes, plant and ignore til its time to dig them up. One manky small bag of potatoes gives a heaving washingup bowl of crop.
Tomatoes. Get something simple like cherry tomato plants.