Chard is enticing, colourful and very good to eat

Children don’t generally like the Brassica family so a gorgeous alternative is coloured Swiss Chard. It is easy to grow and is pleasant to eat provided it is carefully cooked: either the stems can be cooked in a stir-fry, or used as small tender leaves added to salad, or for ease the leaves can be steamed; it has the advantage of cut and come again.

There is no shortage of colours as the RHS gave seven cultivars an Award of Merit in 2000. Chard is related to Beetroot and the Purple Leaved Orache, and has an interesting history in many parts of the world. Most importantly it is medicinally beneficial and provides a supply of nutrients to the winter diet.

Shallots: these are more practical to grow than the Spanish Onions as they will appeal to children and will be ready sooner. Spring onions might be handy as they can be grown from seed. There is a Tree Onion that grows little plantlets at the top of its stems!!