Starting a garden with your children is a fun family activity. Not only does a garden provide you with delicious food, it teaches children what is involved in producing food. These easy vegetables for children to grow will work for container gardens, raised bed gardens, and in-the-ground gardens alike.
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Top 5 Easy to Grow Vegetables for Children
I like these easy to grow vegetables for kids because they can all be eaten right from the garden. No cooking is necessary. All 5 vegetables are easy for children to pick too.
Radishes are one of my favorite vegetables to grow with children. They are easy to sow, grow well even in not-so-good soil, and can be ready to harvest in about 30 days.
Most kids don’t have a long attention span and may get bored if they don’t quickly see some results from what they plant. Radishes germinate fast and start growing to give kids some tangible results from what they plant. Radishes can be planted in both the spring and the fall.
My favorite varieties of radishes to grow with children are Easter Egg Blend for their pretty mix of colors and Watermelon Radish because it looks like a watermelon when you cut into it.
Sugar Snap Peas
Kids love to grow Sugar Snap Peas. Just like radishes, peas are a cool-season crop so they can be sown in early spring about 5 weeks before your last spring frost.
Peas are usually the first crop I plant in my garden with no frost protection. They need to be started directly in the garden as they don’t transplant well. Sugar Snap Peas are usually ready to harvest in about 10 weeks. Cut them from the vine to keep from pulling the plants out of the ground.
If you don’t want to have to trellis your peas, I recommend growing Sugar Ann or Sugar Lace II. Both varieties of sugar snap pea only grow about 24 inches tall so they don’t need any kind of support.
Lettuce is my personal favorite vegetable to grow and it is a favorite of many children as well. With so many colors and varieties it is also a beautiful addition to your garden. You can even mix lettuce in your flower beds or among your landscape plantings to add some color during the spring and fall.
When growing lettuce with children, I recommend starting with a loose-leaf or Romaine variety first.
You can start eating the lettuce by snipping a few outer leaves as soon as they are big enough to eat. The plants will keep producing leaves from the inside. You can also cut the whole head at once. It will oftentimes regrow again. But if you want the most lettuce from each head, just snip the outer leaves as they get bigger.
There are so many great varieties out there that I hesitate to recommend any, but I don’t want to leave you hanging. A few of my favorites that I’ve tried are Black-Seeded Simpson, Green and Red Salad Bowl, and Freckles. If in doubt, grab a packet of seed that is a blend of varieties. I’ve yet to grow a bad kind of lettuce!
I recommend growing cherry tomatoes with kids instead of slicers or paste tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes ripen sooner and are sweeter than other kinds. For fun, grow a red one and a yellow one. My favorite variety of red cherry tomato is Super Sweet 100 and my favorite yellow cherry is Sun Gold.
If you are growing tomatoes in containers, I recommend Red Robin or one of the Tumbling Tom series. I also recommend purchasing tomato plants for your first garden. Without grow lights, you will have a difficult time getting them off to a good start indoors. Since tomatoes take a long time to mature, if you wait to start the seed in the garden, you may not get tomatoes before your first frost.
Tomatoes will not tolerate any amount of frost. So don’t plant tomatoes until after your last expected frost date in the spring. You may even prefer to wait a week or so after that date, since that is the AVERAGE date of the last frost. If you do go ahead and plant, be prepared to cover the tomato plant with a bucket should temperatures dip below freezing.
Cucumbers grow well in a children’s garden. They can also be grown in containers. However you grow them, they will need to be grown up a trellis. This keeps the plants from sprawling all over the garden, plus it keeps the cucumbers clean.
Plant cucumber seeds directly in the garden after your last spring frost. The cucumbers can be planted at the same time you plant your tomatoes.
To save space and still grow quite a few cucumbers, I recommend using a tomato cage as a trellis. You can plant 3 or 4 seeds around the cage and train the plant to grow up it. This trick works well for container grown cucumbers too. Just insert the cage into the container before planting the cucumber seeds around it.
A few of my favorite varieties include County Fair, Homemade Pickles, Patio Snacker, and Spacemaster.
Other Good Vegetables to Grow with Kids
Squash and Zucchini
Squash and Zucchini are super easy to grow even though they may not always be the kid’s favorite vegetable to eat. (Try making zucchini fries to entice them to taste a bite.) The large seeds make squash easy for toddlers and preschoolers to plant and some varieties are quick to set fruit.
Like other warm season vegetables, squash and zucchini need to be planted directly in the ground (or container) after your last spring frost. While some stores will sell plants, don’t waste your money. A packet of seeds is much cheaper and children will be excited to see the squash plant peeking out of the ground.
Varieties that produce fruit quickly include Enterprise and Dixie Yellow Crookneck Squash and Raven and Eight Ball Zucchini.
Green Beans make a great vegetable for children to grow because the seeds are easy to plant. Beans need to be sown directly in the ground after your last spring frost.
You can plant green beans in the ground or in containers, just like you would peas. For children, I recommend planting bush beans, especially if growing beans in containers. Bush beans don’t need to be staked or trellised and they produce beans more quickly than pole beans.
If your kids aren’t fans of GREEN beans, try growing yellow, purple, or red noodle beans. Sometimes, just an interesting color is enough to get kids to try a vegetable they previously hated.
Recommended varieties of green beans include Maxibel, Nickel, and Strike. Try Royal Burgundy or Velour for purple beans or Gold Rush or Pencil Pod for yellow beans. Most purple beans do change to green when cooked.
Kids love to grow carrots in a backyard garden. However, they can be a bit difficult to get to germinate. You need loose soil and you need to keep the seeds well watered. Carrots are particularly suited to growing in containers.
I don’t recommend growing the really long carrots with children unless you are growing them in a deep container. Otherwise, stick with smaller varieties such as Thumbelina, Danvers Half-Long, and Nantes.
However, if you are growing carrots in containers, I recommend picking up a packet of rainbow mixed carrots. These carrots come in yellow, orange, red, and purple and children will enjoy pulling the carrots to see what color they get.
Get more tips and tricks for growing carrots in this post.
Potatoes are another fun vegetable to grow with kids. This is one vegetable most children will eat. Potatoes are usually started from other potatoes, called seed potatoes. I don’t recommend buying and planting regular potatoes from the store though. Store-bought potatoes have been treated with a chemical that retards their growth.
By purchasing disease free seed potatoes, you can ensure a much better harvest and that you aren’t introducing any unnecessary chemicals into your garden.
I highly recommend growing potatoes in a container or a grow bag. Then, when it is time to harvest to potatoes, you can dump the container out and let the kids pick through it to find the potatoes.
Recommended varieties include Yukon Gold and Pinto Gold. For more information on growing potatoes, check out this post from Grow A Good Life.
My Favorite Fruit to Grow With Children
My favorite fruit to grow with kids is strawberries. They don’t take up nearly as much space as blueberries or raspberries. You can grow strawberries in pots on a deck or they can even be tucked into your landscape.
Strawberries need a good bit of sun to grow well. They also need consistent water so choose your location carefully.
But nothing is more delicious than eating a red, ripe, sun-warmed strawberry straight from the garden.
No Place to Grow A Garden? Grow A Garden Indoors
Sprouts & Microgreens
If you don’t have the space to grow anything outside, try growing sprouts or microgreens. Both can easily be grown indoors.
Sprouts can be grown in just a few days and children can see the the whole process through the jar. This is a great tutorial to learn how to grow sprouts.
Microgreens are also easy to grow indoors. You do need a grow light to grow healthy microgreens, but there are many affordable options on the market right now. This post shares all the details on growing microgreens at home.
If you want to grow more than sprouts or microgreens, you might consider investing in an AeroGarden. An AeroGarden is a hydroponic system to grow plants indoors. My Mom gave me one of these for Christmas years ago and I have successfully grown tomatoes, lettuce, and quite a few herbs in one.
The models have changed slightly since mine was purchased, but I still enjoy using mine during the winter to harvest a bit of fresh produce from my kitchen counter.
Teaching Our Children Where Food Comes From
I strongly believe that we should teach our children where their food comes from. Many of us grew up helping our grandparents grow tomatoes and shell peas. We have fond memories of shucking corn and then eating the delicious rewards of our hard work.
However, gardening is becoming a lost art. I have been in our local schools and seen firsthand that many kids have no idea what a carrot looks like growing in the ground. And most kids don’t eat but 4 or 5 different vegetables.
We need to change that!
While I don’t expect every family to want to grow a huge, in-the-ground traditional garden, I do think most families can grow something. Kids need to see how much work it is to grow food.
They also need to be exposed to a variety of fruits and vegetables. Children are much more likely to taste a vegetable or fruit that they grew themselves. I hope this post has inspired you to grow something with your children or grandkids this year.
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- Gardening in Raised Beds
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