Contributed by: Christy Wilhelmi – Gardenerd
Winter may be fast approaching, but it’s the perfect time to engage children in plans for a spring garden. Encourage your little ones to dream big; read together about children’s gardening, spend time plotting out veggies that will become mid-day snacks in spring, and start seeds indoors or on a sunny porch. Watch the excitement build.
Here are a few quick veggies that provide nearly instant gratification and are kid-friendly crops to plant:
Radishes – the ultimate instant-gratification vegetable. They sprout in days and can be harvested in a very short time. Perfect for impatient little ones!
Lettuces – not only will you see sprouts emerge quickly (10 days or so) but you’ll be able to harvest the outside leaves in a little over a month from the time they sprout. You’ll have salads through spring and into summer.
Beets – okay, kids might not like beets, but they are really easy to grow, have virtually no pests or diseases, and bring a lot of color to the garden. Their red-veined leaves and stems might actually convince kids that beets are tasty, too.
Arugula – this green is a little more sophisticated in flavor, but much like radishes, it sprouts in days. Your kids may not like it but you will, so tell them that kids can grow grown-up vegetables to share.
Peas – nature’s snack food rarely makes it in from the garden. Peas take longer to germinate, but given a place to climb, they will thrive. Kids will enjoy watching peas reach for the sky, flower and form little tiny pea pods. Practice patience by waiting for the peas to plump up and then pick and eat them right in the garden. These are the things that make lasting memories.
Christy Wilhelmi, is founder of Gardenerd.com and author of Gardening for Geeks. She offers classes, consulting and food garden design in the Los Angeles are, and grows 70% of her family’s produce in under 200 square feet. For more information on growing your own food, visit Gardenerd.com.
While you and your children wait for the new garden to grow, here are some of our other favorite gardening with kids books:
- The Curious Garden by Peter Brown
- The Ultimate Step-by-Step Kids’ First Gardening Book” by Jenny Hendy
- Grow It, Cook It by Jill Bloomfield
- Good Growing: A Kid’s Guide to Green Gardening by the Editors of Klutz
- Mud Pies and Other Recipes by Marjorie Winslow
Once you’ve new garden is ready to harvest, check out the fun illustrated healthy recipes that you and your children can use to prepare wonderful homemade meals together!
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