Growing a garden with your children is fun, easy and affordable and teaches them invaluable lessons about nature and sustainability. Your garden can be as simple as a few pots on a patio or windowsill or two or three kid-friendly crops sown in your yard. Be sure to engage your child from start to finish: let her pick the seeds, plant them, tend them, and harvest and prepare them to show off what she grew.
Following are some of the simplest and most reliable crops for kid-friendly gardening. All of these will grow easily from seeds—the best way to give your young gardener the full planting experience.
Sunflowers. These majestic plants not only impress visually, but if you get the edible variety, the seeds will dry and your children can enjoy the healthy meat of the seeds or use them to make bird food.
Radishes. Plant them and they will grow, and quickly. Within a few days of sowing the seeds you will be rewarded with sprouts. Within a month your young gardener can harvest the sturdy red roots. Click here for ideas on how to enjoy radishes.
Lettuce. Let your child peruse the large variety of lettuce seeds available and pick a few that suit her fancy. These should sprout up in less than two weeks. Encourage children to harvest them and make salads for the entire family.
Mint. This fast-growing herb will reward you in the kitchen to flavor salads and as a garnish on desserts. Dry some in the fall for mint tea. One caveat: Mint will quickly become invasive; so if you’re planting it in your garden, put the seeds or starter in a container and plant the container so that the rim is level with the ground; this will prevent the roots from taking over. Mint makes a great container plant on a patio for this reason.
Pumpkin. Every child will delight in growing his own pumpkin for a Halloween jack-o’-lantern. From seed, it will take about three to four months until your pumpkin is ready to harvest, so start early. Pumpkin vines will take up quite a bit of room in the garden; therefore plan accordingly. Make sure you get jack-o’-lantern varieties and not smaller pie pumpkins.