20 Things About Stuff - 20 Easy Grow Plants for Kids
1. Sugar snap peas. Sweet, crunchy pods that beg to be eaten right off the vine; these also make a terrific lunchbox snack. Plant in the spring. Just let the vines flop on the ground, or plant along a fence so they can climb.
2. Lettuce, spinach, and other leafy greens. These are dead easy to plant and grow and can thrive in a patio pot, too. Check out red and green lettuces, kale, cilantro, and dill. Sprinkle a new line of seeds every two weeks, and kids will have a healthy homegrown salad all season.
3. Radishes. They grow like superheroes and are ready to eat in a month. Try an Easter-egg blend with pinks, whites and purples. If you plant radishes in the cool weather of spring and fall, they won't get really spicy. The kids can give them to Mom for Mother's Day.
4. Carrots. Another quick-grower. The tiny seeds need to be sprinkled carefully, but soon you'll have real baby carrots, sweet enough for all kids and as a bonus, the green tops attract swallowtail butterflies.
5. Potatoes. Cut in pieces, bury as soon as the ground can be spaded, and you're eating new potatoes in June. When you harvest, you just dig in the side of the little hill, and leave the mom plant there so she can grow more, bigger potatoes. You can buy seed potatoes, which haven't been treated with growth-retarding chemicals like some supermarket potatoes. But a potato sprouting in the kitchen cupboard should work just fine, too.
6. Green beans. It's fun to plant the big seeds, and beans are delicious raw or cooked. Bush beans are simplest, but pole beans, which grow up a teepee made of sticks, make a great secret hiding place come July. Scarlet runner beans have a stronger bean flavor that some kids don't like, but they attract hummingbirds.
7. Cherry tomatos. Buy a small plant at the local garden store, and you'll be picking super sweet orange orbs off these vines until frost. If you've got the space, plant a red grape tomato, too.
8. Pumpkins. They take a bit more space, and you'll have to wait until fall to harvest, but the vines are amazing. Grow your own pumpkins for Halloween.
9. Sunflowers. Taller than Dad or get mini versions. If you've got a big yard, plant a bunch and make a maze. In the fall, dry and eat the seeds, or leave them in the garden for the birds.
10. Broccoli. You might be surprised to see what kids like when they've planted and harvested the crop themselves. Garden broccoli is sweet and tender. Buy plants at the local garden store to speed up harvest.
11. Pod peas are a trouble free crop that enjoy cooler weather. Sow them directly into the ground from March to June and look forward to the incredible sweet flavour of fresh picked peas from June to August. All they need is support for their stems - simply erect some chicken wire or netting between supports at each end of the row. You'll be amazed at how good fresh peas taste - and the more that you pick them, the more they produce!
12.Give your salads a tangy crunch with some quick-growing spring onions. Kids love the crunch. Companion planting with mint will help to keep away the onion fly. Try 'White Lisbon' for a crop that'll overwinter, or 'Performer' for a milder taste.
13. What could be simpler for kids to grow! Sow Broad Beans in spring in small 7.5cm (3") pots of compost, and within a few weeks these quick growing beans will make sturdy plants that can be planted out in the garden. If that sounds like too much work then sow them directly in the ground. Kids can watch the bees pollinate their pretty flowers and before you know it you will be harvesting a bumper crop of fresh picked beans from June onwards, with a flavour that puts supermarket beans to shame.
14. For a super-easy to grow root vegetable try beetroot. Often used in salads but equally tasty eaten warm and freshly boiled as a vegetable. Beetroot can be sown directly into moist ground from March to July. As they grow, thin the seedlings to about 5cm apart. From May to September kids can look forward to harvesting their own colourful, succulent beetroot.
15. Try growing salad mix. The crunchy fresh leaves with a fantastic range of textures and flavours. Try sowing throughout the summer months, and you'll be cutting fresh leaves for the kids sandwiches just 3 weeks later! Better still, they will continue growing so you can harvest them again and again.
16. Who doesn’t love strawberries? They are like nature’s sweet candy! Strawberries are perfect for kids, because harvesting them is like a treasure hunt and your children will want to come out to the garden every day to peek underneath the leaves. Strawberries that you grow at home are sweeter than the ones that you will find at the grocery store too. Strawberries can be grown in any part of your yard and can take up either a small or large space depending on what you have available.
17. Cabbage is fun for children to grow for one simple reason – some varieties will grow giant, over-sized heads reaching up to 50 lbs. That alone is plenty of reason to give growing cabbage a shot with your children. Cabbage can grow to an incredible size in as little as 10-12 weeks too, which makes the process even better.
18. Walking Stick Kale is fun to grow because at the end of it’s life-cycle you are left with a perfect walking stick. Simply strip the kale of its leaves, branches and roots, and sand it to perfection. Your kids will be left with the perfect walking stick for family summer hikes. Walking Stick Kale is also fun because it can grow up to 10 feet tall – and will give your kids visions of a real life Jack and the Beanstalk.
19. Children who don't love cucumbers often love pickles, and pickle-haters will frequently devour fresh-from-the-vine cukes. For this reason, cucumbers give you two opportunities to convince your kids that gardening is great fun and leads to a delicious reward!
20. Like beans and cucumbers, zucchini plants are prolific, whether they are grown in containers or directly in mounded soil. Like beans and radishes, they grow easily from seeds. They need good moisture, though, and prefer warm soil, so it's best to sow seeds later in the warm season (a good plant for gardening procrastinators!). And kids love zucchini bread!