Popular plants for gardening with children

childunderembrella

After reading Our Friend Ben’s recent post on top ten garden seed recommendations, I began to think about my own seed suggestions.  Sure, I have lots of plants that I consider my favorites, but how could I make this topic my own and not just a list of ten seed suggestions parroting Our Friend Ben’s excellent list?

Well, after thinking a bit and talking to the always lovely, helpful and now gardening Micah, I decided on a list of plant recommendations for children’s gardens.  You want your little one in the garden with you and goodness knows they want to be right beside you as you kneel in the freshly turned soil, but how are you going to harness that energy and put it to good use?  You certainly don’t give them a handful of carrot seeds and tell them to get planting!  No, you hand them the largest seeds you can find and put them to work.  Does this absolve you of the ultimate responsibility of ensuring that all is planted well?  Of course not, but it does give you a little more time to plant some of the peskier garden additions.

What would I recommend for your budding (pun intended) gardener?  I think gardening for and with children should incorporate a variety of tactics.  As a garden mentor, you would like to instill a deep and abiding love for growing things into your small one.  How best to do this?

  • Start your child out with seeds and/or cuttings that are just fitted for sweet and chubby little hands.
  • Ensure that your child can see visible progress within a few days.
  • Your child’s plantings should change throughout the season: color, shape and size
  • Be sure to include some bright colors to hold your child’s interest!
  • Yes, this suggestion is intuitive, but please don’t give your child anything to plant that could be poisonous!

With these recommendations in mind, I have compiled a list to help you and your child have a successful and fun filled gardening experience!

  1. Beans–the bigger the better!  Don’t tell my organic gardening friends I told you this, but feel free to save a few dry beans from some of the ones you’re soaking for dinner.  Plant these chunky seeds and let your child grow her own dinner!
  2. Squash–I would suggest winter squash since it’s more resistant to the squash vine borer and has more colorful fruit than summer squash.  Plus, your child is sure to love the sweet and creamy taste of baked winter squash!  By the way, don’t forget pumpkins.  Your child will be in heaven with his own pumpkin patch.
  3. Sunflowers–but that’s a given, right?
  4. Gourds–these seeds are usually fairly odd shaped, pretty chunky and grow so quickly it’s scary!  My suggestions: loofah, birdhouse, bushel.  They’ll grow right up the side of your house if you let them!
  5. Nasturtiums–these, bright jewel like flowers are a beautiful addition to your garden–and they’re edible.
  6. Corn–how about planting some popcorn with your child?  What a lovely way to incorporate a healthy snack into your child’s diet.  Don’t forget about the beautiful colored corn!
  7. Zinnias–these have been some of my favorite flowers since childhood.  If you want to see some really beautiful flowers, visit Mr. Hollis’s blog.  They’re so easy to plant and grow that your child absolutely cannot fail in this endeavor!
  8. Melons–for the slightly older child (only because these seeds are smaller), why not try melons?  Your child will adore tracking the progress of their own sweet snacks.  Give cantaloupes and watermelons a try!
  9. Garlic and onions–children will be intrigued with planting the baby onions and thrilled to find how large the onions have grown.  Same for garlic–let your child help separate a garlic head and see how much dinnertime interest spikes!
  10. Broccoli and cabbage–these seeds are a bit small and will require additional help from mom and dad–but they’re quick growers.  Your child will be able to see fast results and hurried growth with these nutrient powerhouses.  I think it’s also a great way to introduce them to fresh food–since it’s quite acceptable to pinch off a broccoli leaf and munch it in the garden!

I hope some of these suggestions are helpful to you and your children.  Do you have any vegetables and flowers that you have found especially successful?  Do let me know.  Feel free to share your experiences and suggestions!

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5 comments

  1. Great suggestions, Becca! I especially love the nasturtiums and popcorn. If you’re planting pumpkins, beans, and corn with your children, a Three Sisters garden is a great way to combine gardening fun and history, too! Because radish seeds are cool and round, and the radishes mature so quickly and colorfully and are easy for little fingers to harvest and so much fun to eat, they’d make my list as well. My only other suggestion would be a colorful lettuce or mesclun mix. True, the seeds are small and dark, but they can be scattered straight from the package, stomped in by little feet, and the fun, colorful little lettuces not only appear within a week, but can begin to be harvested almost immediately. Talk about instant gratification!

  2. Great list! The kids I babysit started sunflowers (super fast), and we are doing a giant green bean vine and gourd (egg, bushel, luffa) area this year:)

    I would love to see the layout of your garden:)

  3. Hey, I have to recommend the book Roots, Shoots, Buckets, and Boots. I think you’ve read this one, Becca. We’ve done the pizza garden and the sunflower tunnel. Love this book and love this website, that I didn’t even realize you had. I’m gonna send the link to my Rebecca.

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