Gardening may seem like a time-consuming and daunting activity for kids, but it can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience if you start with easy to grow plants. It does not require a large plot of land – many plants can be grown in raised garden beds, containers, and pots. When considering what to plant, it is a good idea to start with vegetables that require low maintenance, or ones that they enjoy eating. Gardening is a great way to introduce children to the wonders of the natural world and teach them about important skills not found in school curriculums.
Our Kids Garden Raised Bed is an ideal raised bed suited for kids. Despite its name, the kid’s garden bed can actually accommodate a lot of vegetables. You can easily fit 6 tomato plants in the summer, or 16 carrot plants in the fall. You can also use it as an herb garden to grow mint, basil and rosemary. Below is a list of the best crops to grow with kids in a children’s garden, whether at home or for a school garden project.
Peas are a fun vegetable to harvest as kids enjoy shelling them from their pods. The three kinds of peas are English peas, snow peas, and sugar snap peas. English peas are known as shelling peas and do not have edible pods. Snow peas have flat edible pods and have the longest maturity of all peas. Sugar snap peas are a cross between the other two varieties, with their pods being crisp and edible. Peas are among the easiest to grow, and their seeds resemble pea pods. Long vining varieties will require trellises for support.
2. Cherry Tomatoes
Cherry tomatoes are also a great choice to grow with kids. Prolific and hardy, they can be ready for harvest in as little as 45 days. As mentioned, you can fit several tomato plants with our Vego Kids Garden Bed, which improves yield due to optimal drainage. The ideal soil is well draining sandy loam. Picking fresh cherry tomatoes is definitely an enjoyable experience, and their crisp, fresh taste makes it a versatile addition to salads and for snacking.
Carrots are a cool-weather crop that is grown during the cooler periods of fall and spring. Kids will have fun harvesting the roots from the soil. In addition to the standard orange, they are available in a variety of colors, such as purple, yellow, and white. Baby carrots and globe varieties are recommended due to their small size and quicker time to maturity. Globe carrots are a round variety shaped like a radish and impart a crunchy, sweet flavor. To reduce weeds and the chance of them becoming knobby or misshapen, grow them in raised beds in loose, well-drained soil.
Potatoes are a great crop that can be planted in the ground in rows or mounds, in raised beds or containers, and in potato bags. It can be a satisfying and educational process for kids to harvest the tubers. Although they are vigorous growers and can tolerate a wide range of conditions, we recommend growing them in raised garden beds for a plentiful yield.
Since many kids are picky eaters or do not like vegetables, potatoes are a good choice due to their high versatility in recipes – mashed potatoes, fries, potato pancakes, and potato dumplings. Potatoes can be planted during the spring when soil temperatures reach at least 40°F for a summer harvest. Do not use potatoes from the grocery, which are not certified disease free, and instead purchase certified seed potatoes.
5. Green Beans
Kids will enjoy watching green beans grow and picking them. Depending on their growing style, they are classified as either bush beans or pole beans. Bush beans do not require supports such as trellises, growing to 2 ft tall. The climbing vines of pole beans can grow to 10 – 15 ft tall and require sturdy structures to support them. Bush beans are recommended as they are easier to grow and require less maintenance. They can be planted in the spring after the risk of frost has passed. A popular way to cook green beans is by sautéing them with garlic and butter.
Strawberries are delightful fruits that are popular in desserts. They can be planted when the soil is dry and able to be worked, which is usually March or April. Their bright color and fruity taste make them popular among kids of all ages. They can be grown in containers, raised beds, or even a pot on the patio. It is important that you plant them in a sunny location that gets 8 – 10 hours of sun each day. As your plants are growing, they will produce runners, which are stems that are attached to the central plant and produce new plants. They should be trimmed before the growing season to divert energy into fruit production.
Basil is an herb related to the mint family that has been cultivated for thousands of years. A popular culinary flavoring in dishes, basil comes in many varieties and is a great introduction for kids starting an herb garden. Genovese basil is often used for making pesto. Cinnamon basil has a distinctive spicy flavor reminiscent of cinnamon, while lemon and lime basil have fragrant lemon-like scents and flavors. Raised beds are ideal for growing basil as the soil warms up faster, and basil thrives in warm temperatures.
Lettuce is a vegetable that grows quickly, with most varieties taking 34 – 60 days to mature. One of the oldest cultivated foods, lettuce was a staple vegetable in ancient Rome. For kids who do not like salads, they can be put into sandwiches and burgers. Lettuce is a cool weather crop that can be planted during early spring 2 – 4 weeks before your last spring frost date. Due to their compact size and low maintenance, they can be grown in areas with limited space. To keep the leaves from wilting or bolting, water them consistently and lightly.
Watermelon is a sweet and refreshing fruit that conjures up the idyllic, hazy days of summer. Although it may seem like a difficult crop to grow, they can be fun to plant given the right conditions, especially if you are an experienced gardener. Watermelons need a long warm growing season, so avoid growing them if you live in an area with fluctuating weather conditions or a short growing season. To avoid transplant shock, make sure the soil is warm before planting, usually late spring or early summer. Due to their extensive root systems, watermelons benefit from being grown in raised garden beds. The ideal dimensions are approximately 4 x 4 ft or larger, which is feasible with our raised bed kits.
If you have extra space, consider growing pumpkins, which can be used as decorations or in pumpkin pie. Although many think of pumpkins as a fall season plant, they are actually grown during late spring and early summer, taking 80 – 120 days to harvest. You can choose to grow small varieties if faced with space constraints. Pumpkins can be grown in hills, in-ground gardens, raised beds, containers, or large pots. When planting pumpkins in raised beds, situate them near the edge so that the vines can trail over the side. Being heavy feeders, pumpkins prefer soil high in organic matter.