Introducing kids to gardening is one of the best ways to teach sustainable living, basic biology, and healthy eating. Some plants are much better suited for kids than others.
Asparagus, for example, is not a kid-friendly plant to grow because it takes two years for the plant to mature. In most cases kids are not patient enough to wait two seasons to see the benefit of growing asparagus.
Broccoli is another vegetable plant not well suited for kids; it is a finicky vegetable that requires specific soil and cool climate conditions. Without these requirements broccoli does not form crowns and can be rather disappointing.
However, the five plants listed below are ideal for kids of all ages.
Chives: As a perennial herb, chives come back every year. They are hearty and grow very well in containers. They can be cut back often for use in recipes and even the flowers will delight and add a splash of color. Chives are one of the best plants to grow for those who believe they have a “black thumb.”
Radishes: Radishes grow very well from seed and a number of varieties not normally found in grocery stores are fairly easy to find, even in grocery stores. Favorite varieties of radishes include the watermelon and the sparkler radishes which have unique color combinations. Planting and harvesting radishes teaches about the lifecycle and seasonality of vegetables. Once the bulb of the radish forms it is important to harvest immediately or it will become woody and bitter; however, if you allow the radish to flower and then go to seed you will find an added bonus of edible seed pods.
Yellow pear tomato: Pear and cherry tomatoes are great for kids. They are bite size and small enough that kids can have fun picking and eating lots of them. The yellow pear tomato is different enough from the typical grocery store tomatoes to be fun and new but similar enough to not be intimidating. They also grow great in containers or in the ground and will produce healthy snacks all summer long.
Zucchini: Zucchini and its yellow squash cousins are also good plants for kids to learn to garden with. They are prolific producers and easy to grow. When too much zucchini is produced kids can learn the value of sharing food with neighbors and those in need. Local food banks can always use additional fresh produce and kids can learn valuable lessons when they encounter others who do not have food security
Mammoth sunflower: Don’t overlook flowers as food. The mammoth sunflower will produce abundant amounts of sunflower seed which can be roasted with a custom spice blend. Plus, they are pretty, attract honey bees and butterflies, and they add texture to the garden landscape.
These 5 plants are easy for kids to grow and can make for a delicious and nutritious salad too.