Try growing fruit pips and veg seeds for a fun experiment, says Katherine Miller

Of all the weird and wonderful things to grow, we had the most success with monkey nuts! Children are never going to be able to grow monkey nuts at school due to all the allergy regulations, so this is a good experiment for home (unless you are allergic to them). Until recently I didn’t know that monkey nuts (peanuts) grow underground and are part of the pea and bean family, whereas all other nuts grow on trees.

This fact caused a debate at home about how things grow and I came to the conclusion that it must be quite hard for children to understand that fruit and vegetables grow in different ways and conditions.

I remember once on holiday thinking that the pineapple plantation that I was driving through was a hoax. I had not imagined that each single fruit would sit atop a spiky plant – I thought they grew like coconuts, dangling from trees!

So we decided to find pips and seeds in fruit and vegetables, some which we regularly eat and some unusual ones too. Before any chopping up began, The children asked if we could play ‘shops’ and the boys spent the morning bartering. When my eldest was three, his favourite game was ‘shops’. “You be the keeper, and I’ll be the custard” he’d say (instead of customer).

These days he’s quite a pushy salesman – my youngest son was pressed into buying limes and avocados, which he’d never seen before – and he was forced to listen to a high-pressure sales pitch by his older brother. A 3-year-old’s style of shopkeeping is a little more random, and I ended up paying £50 for a pineapple.

 

Pips, seeds & stones

How to grow fruit pips - a great gardening project for kids

We had a look at all the fruit stickers and discussed where in the world our items came from, and the boys seemed to understand that we wouldn’t be able to grow tropical fruit outside in England.

I cut the top off the pineapple, and after removing the lower leaves, We planted it in a pot of compost. This will continue to grow if we look after it. The kids searched for pips in the apples, oranges, lemons and limes and then planted them (citrus pips need to be soaked before planting).

So far, we have had seedlings emerge from pumpkin, apple, lemon, melon, and pepper seeds. Our avocado stone, still hovering over a jam-jar of water on cocktail sticks, remains the same. I have since found out that these are difficult to get going…

Find out how to grow Monkey nuts here.