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The first thing you need to decide is what you want to grow. People usually suggest ANNUALS for children. Annuals are plants that grow from seed, flower, produce seeds and then die all in the same year. This usually means they grow fast, and produce bright flowers in just a few weeks. A lot of annuals are good for cutting and putting in a vase indoors, so you can grow them if you want a colourful garden and want to be able to take a bunch of flowers to your teacher or aunt. They are usually easy to grow and produce a lot of seeds as well. Examples of Annuals are Sunflower, Pansy, Poppy, Snapdragon, Sweet William, Marigold and Cornflower.

If you want to grow plants that will give you flowers in the garden for many years, you want to grow PERENNIALS. They might not flower the year you sow the seeds, but they usually last for a long time, giving you flowers and seeds for several years. Some perennials die down in the winter, but their roots are still alive, and they grow again in the spring. Plants that die down in the winter like this are called herbaceous. Popular perennials include Lupin, Columbine, Geranium, Aubrieta and Bellflower.

There are a few plants that aren't quite annuals and are not quite perennials either. They start to grow in one year and flower and die in their second year. These are called BIENNIALS. The most popular biennials are Foxgloves.

A lot of vegetables are annuals, so you can grow them and be able to eat your crop the same year. People often suggest Radishes for children to grow, but I never found them very exciting. You need to pull them up to see how they're doing, so you end up pulling them all out of the ground before they're big enough to be much of a mouthful. It's the same with most vegetables that grow underground. You can't see what's happening without digging them up. Runner Beans are much better, as they grow fast, have bright red flowers, and you can see the bunches of dangling pods getting bigger at eye level. They're climbing plants, so they can cover a fence, or you can grow them up sticks. Sweetcorn is also good, as it's just a giant grass, with fat yellow cobs wrapped in huge leaves, with a long yellow tassel on the end. And when you've grown them, you can eat them raw, or cooked, or you can pop them to make your own popcorn. Peas are also nice straight from the plant. If you want to be different, Peanuts are interesting. You can just get a packet of fresh (NOT roasted) ones, take them out of the shells, and sow them. The plants aren't very big and the yellow flowers are small, but the flower stems bend down after pollination, and the peanuts form under the ground in their shells.

The next step is to get the seeds of what you want to grow. You may know someone who has spare seeds they can give you. Sometimes the packets of seed you buy have thousands of seeds in, which is far too many for most people. Sometimes you can buy cheap packets with only a few seeds in. This is good enough for a start. Once you've grown just one plant, you'll be able to collect more of those seeds to grow next time.

Sometimes, you can get packets of seeds cheaply in a market or at the end of the season. These seeds are usually OK, too. Most seeds last for years, especially if the packet isn't opened. You can collect your own seeds from plants in your garden or even in the wild. Lots of people like to grow wildflowers, so you might be able to swap them for some other type of seeds.

There are lots of varieties of most plants these days, so it can be confusing trying to work out which ones you want. The cheaper ones are probably the most popular variety anyway. Don't bother with the latest hybrids to start with. A good way of finding out what flowers look like, or what varieties are popular, is to look at Seed Catalogues. You can sometimes get them in DIY stores or shops that sell seeds, sometimes they come in gardening magazines, and sometimes you can send for them or order them on the internet. You don't have to buy seeds from the catalogues. You just want to be able to see the pictures and know what the ones you like are called. They often have growing information, too, which is useful. Click the red links at the bottom of the page to go to a page about seed catalogues you can send for. Ask an adult to check any website before you fill in any form on it. If you go to the catalogue page, click the 'Back' button at the top of your computer to get back to this page.

If you want to try to grow seeds of edible plants, you can get the seeds from fruit or vegetables in your kitchen.

Once you've decided what to grow, and got the seeds, you are ready to sow them. Click the green arrow to find out how to sow your seeds.

Click the red links to go to the Seed Catalogues page.
Click the green arrow to go to the Seedsowing section.