top 10 plants for kids
According to EarthEasy.com, there are 10 "must haves" for any child's garden. The following are the suggested plantings based on ease of growth, heartiness, and taste/color.
1. Sunflower - A must have for a child's garden. Plant just one or two, since they take a lot of room. Sunflowers will sprout in 1 week, become a small seedling in 2 weeks, and should be two feet tall in a month. In 8 weeks, the buds will flower revealing hundreds of seed kernels.
2. Lettuce - RA quick and reliable crop to give the child fast results, and is also a good way to interest kids in salads. Lettuce likes part shade; keep soil moist especially during the first two weeks. The seeds will germinate in 7-10 days; growing season is about 40-50 days.
3. Radishes - Quick results for the younger gardener. Radishes germinate in 3-10 days, and have a very short growing season of 20-30 days. They can be planted closely, 4-6 inches apart. Plant in cool weather for a mild radish, or hot weather for a hotter radish.
4. Snow Peas - A quick-growing early crop, and fun for kids to eat right off the vine. They take about 10 days to germinate and mature in about 60 days. Peas prefer cooler, partially shady locations in the garden; they should be sown closely, about 1" apart at most. Snow peas are popular because the pod is edible and since they are a dwarf plant, can be grown without a trellis.
5. Cherry Tomatoes - These may be the most fun crop aside from strawberries. Plant these in full sun and use seedlings rather than planting from a seed. Put in a 2' stake alongside each seedling; they need to be tied loosely to stakes as they get taller. Add lots of compost. Water at ground level, trying to keep the leaves dry. Growing season is 50-70 days. Cherry tomatoes can also be grown in containers and pots.
6. Nasturtiums - These flowers are easy to grow and yield results quickly, which encourages the young gardener. Nasturtiums bloom in about 50 days after the seeds are planted, with orange, yellow, and red flowers. They prefer sunny, dry locations and do well in poor soil. Choose the shorter varities for garden beds. Nasturtiums are also pest resistant, which ensures a successful planting. The flowers are also edible, and can be used to add color to a fresh garden salad.
7. Bush Beans - Fast, easy, high yield, and because they do not grow tall, they are easy for kids to harvest. Bush beans germinate in 4-8 days, and mature in 40-65 days. It's best to plant a small patch, then another in a few weeks. This will extend the harvest. When choosing seeds, select the "low bush" varieties because these will be easier for children to harvest. Plant closely spaced, about 4 inches apart. Grow in direct sun; water the soil, but try and keep the leaves dry. Bush beans do not need poles or trellises to grow.
8. Carrots - Seeds can be sown directly into the soil. Carrots prefer cooler temperatures. They can be slow to germinate, so be patient. Carrots will mature in about 60 days. The soils should be free of rocks and easy for the carrot to grow "down." Keep well-watered. When planting, plant about 4 inches apart.
9. Potatoes - A never-fail crop. You can plant red or white varieties; red will mature faster. Children seem to favor the red variety. Cut seed potatoes into chunks with at least 2 "eyes" per. Plan in furrows, about 12-15" apart, with eyes pointing upward. Mound soil up around the plant as it grows and harvest when plant collapses.
10. Pumpkin - A 'must' for a child's garden, if you have the room. Plant seeds in a small hill; pole three holes in the hill and put one seed in each hole. Seeds will sprout in about one week. After a few days, vine leaves will begin to form and creep along the ground. Once there are 3 pumpkins on the vine, pick off any new blossoms. Pumpkins take 80-120 days to harvest; it's ready when it feels hard on the outside and sounds hollow when tapped. Let an adult supervise the cutting, using shears. Seeds can be dried to eat, or saved for future planting.