By Richard Godke
Finding the best vegetables for kids to grow is a great way to get your family outside away from the screen — TV or video games. Get them involved in an educational activity that results in trying vegetable fresh from the garden and getting some exercise. Most people start with a garden that is too large and in the hot summer the weeds win out. I am a strong believer in starting with a 4 feet by 4 feet raised bed garden that will produce lots of produce if managed correctly by using the square foot method (no rows for weeds to grow), companion planting (planting two vegetable close together that will harvested at different times during the same season) and successive planting (re-planting a crop multiple times after each previous crop is harvested). Here are my vegetable picks for kids helping in the garden.
Best Vegetables for Kids to Grow – Peas
are a cool season early crop that has a big seed that is easy to plant. Most kids love peas and they will also get to help shelling the peas for a meal. Peas can be planted next to the tomatoes. The peas are harvested early so the tomatoes will not start to grow fast until the peas are harvested. This is an example of companion planting. My variety pick is Little Marvel Garden Peas, 62 days till maturity, 8 plants per square foot.
is a cool season early crop with a mild flavor that most kids like. The color is a light green so it is easy to tell apart from the weeds that might come up. You will want to plant several small plantings about a week a part (succession planting). Even the healthiest family can only eat so much lettuce at one harvest. My variety pick is Black-Seeded Simpson Lettuce, 48 days till maturity, 4 plants per square foot.
is a leafy vegetable that is planted early and produces all season long. Kids love the colored variety that grows in shades of orange, pink, red, white, and yellow. Who knows your kids might even like eating green after growing this colorful vegetable? My variety pick is Bright Lights Chard, 55 days till maturity, 4 plants per Square foot.
is an interesting vegetable that is a swollen stem the size of a tennis ball. It is a round ball with leaves growing up. It looks like a vegetable from outer space. This interesting vegetable is a hit with kids if served in a cream sauce. My variety pick is Early White Vienna Kohlrabi, 55 days till maturity, 16 plants per square foot.
are an interesting to kids because of the red color. The seeds are easy to plant in early spring and the tops are edible as a salad green. Your family will need to decide on how many to prepare as “Pickled Beets” or “Harvard Beets”. My variety pick is Perfected Detroit Dark Red Beets, 58 days till maturity, 16 plants per square foot.
are planted early and come in a rainbow blend of colors that I recommend for kids. Carrots need a deep soil with lots of organic material in the soil. I recommend that your first year you purchase bagged soil from the garden store to insure success. The colored carrots are not as productive but much more interesting for kids to eat. My variety pick is Rainbow Hybrid, 75 days till maturity, 16 plants per square foot.
Yellow Wax Bush Bean
seeds are large and easy to plant. Again the kids love the yellow variety that is easy to see when you harvest. As a child I was surprised that they did not taste like wax. These yellow beans need to be planted after the danger of frost is gone. If they get harvested early you could possibly get a second succession crop if you have a long season. My variety pick is Improved Golden Wax Bush Beans, 56 days till maturity, 9 plants per square foot.
Best Vegetables for Kids to Grow – Tomatoes
are a must in every garden. I recommend that you go to your local garden store and purchase you plant(s). A commercially grown tomato will never taste as good as the first ripe tomato you eat off the plant in the garden. I have raised tomatoes in four states and every year I am guaranteed an attack by the tomato hornworm. It is a large green worm with a horn sticking out of its tail. What a great opportunity for kids to learn outside the class room – an up close bug sighting. For kids I recommend a patio type variety. The tomatoes are smaller but they are earlier and produce before the onset of diseases common with the larger tomatoes. My variety pick is Tiny Tim, 50 days till maturity, 1 plant per square foot.
Vegetables for Kids Review
When choosing the vegetables to grow in your family garden, remember to: 1. involve your family in the vegetable selection with some for younger children who prefer the milder flavors, 2. choose some large seeds that are easy to plant by younger gardeners, 3. include vegetables of all different colors, size, and shapes, 4. select plants that are planted and harvested in different months, and 5. pick plants that work well with square foot method, companion planting, and successive planting. See what the White House Garden has planted there ten best vegetables for kids to grow at http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/on-parenting/2009/03/20/10-easy-grow-veggies-for-your-kids-obama-white-house-garden. If you have vegetables that have worked well with your kids please send me an email on my website http://homegardeningforbeginners.org/. By
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