There is a simple pleasure in watching a seedling sprout into a full-grown, food-bearing plant, and children love being a part of the process. Kids are naturally curious, and gardening is a rewarding way to teach them about the natural world while they keep busy and get dirty, both things children love to do. Starting a kid-friendly garden might sound like a daunting task if you don’t know where to start, but everything falls into place if you first consider which plants are easiest for kids to grow.
There’s a reason why Jack didn’t climb a tomato plant or a blueberry blush. Jack climbed a bean stock because beans are hardy and foolproof. Both quick and easy to grow, beans are a great addition to a child’s garden. They don’t require much space, but need something to climb, so make sure you plant beans in an area that will allow for a trellis or climbing tree. Once the beans are producing, kids will enjoy picking daily harvests from mid-summer to early fall, depending on climate.
If you plant a raspberry bush this autumn, multiple shoots will spring new bushes all around the first site by the next growing season. For this reason, raspberries are one of the easiest plants for kids to grow. The roots like well-draining soil, so raspberries are a great choice for container gardens. Choose an ever-bearing variety for bountiful harvests all season long. Some varieties grow upwards of seven feet high, so make sure you choose plants that will grow low to the ground so children can reach the berries.
Lettuce can easily take over a garden if left to seed, making it a semi-invasive vegetable. Typically, “invasive” plants are easy to grow, which means lettuce is one of the best plants for kids. Start seeds in a seedling tray to germinate, and transplant them when they’re two inches tall. Lettuce flourishes with lots of water, so it’s a good, hands-on crop for children.
Root vegetables are very forgiving and like to be left alone. For this reason, radishes are a great addition to a kid-friendly garden. They grow quickly, and should be planted every two weeks to ensure mature vegetables all season long. Kids will love digging up the bright red bulbs through mid-fall in some zones.
Pea shoots germinate quickly and are ready for the ground in about a week. Children like the curly threads that allow these hardy plants to climb, and the overlapping dark-green leaves. Peas are one of the easiest plants for kids to grow, and require little space. Plant them in the back of your garden with sturdy support poles, and pick them as soon as the pods look full.
Gardening with children teaches them important lessons like patience, appreciation of a job well done and perseverance. It lets them know where their food comes from and the work involved in harvesting fruits and vegetables. Some crops may be too finicky for small hands, but there are many easy and bountiful plants that children love to watch grow.