If you want to pass along your love of gardening to your child, it has never been easier. There are plenty of plants and flowers to choose from that can get the youngest gardener their green thumb. In this article, we are going to discover some of the easiest crops for children to grow. From spring flowers, to garden vegetables, and everything in between, your planting protégé is going to have a lot of fun this gardening season!
When you start gardening with your child, there are a few things to learn before they start digging. While it is essential to choose the right plants for your garden, you also have to teach plant safety and basics as well.
Plants that grow spikes or thorns like roses and holly are not ideal for the young beginner. As they grow, maintaining such crops can result in skin irritation and injury. It is best to avoid them altogether until they are older and with more gardening experience under their belts.
Before you start planting, make sure the annuals and perennials you want to sow are safe for your child. Always teach your child not to put any plants or flowers in their mouths. If a plant is edible, they should ask you first before tasting. Check your gardening books or find an online database to make sure none of your flowers are on the poisonous list.
What type of flowers do you want in your garden? Sit down with your youngster to discuss all of the options available to them. It is easiest to break them down in these broad groups:
Annuals are plants that grow for one season. So when you plant the seed, it sprouts, blossoms, and dies within a short time frame. There are annuals that are ideal for cold weather and some that prefer warmer climates.
Biennial plants thrive for two growing seasons. When they are first planted, the biennial builds up energy in its roots to allow a second time of blossoming. Hollyhocks, forget-me-nots, and carrots are all plants that fall under this category.
Perennial plants live for over three years. Depending on which ones you choose, you can have a plant growing for decades – if they are well maintained. Perennials do take time to blossom, but the right flower can grow right alongside your young child.
Time to Choose
After you have the gardening basics down, it is time to choose the best flowers for you and your child. As stated previously, there is a long list of plants to pick from, but here are some of the top choices to have in your garden:
East to Grow Flowers
The grape hyacinth is a fantastic plant to watch as it grows. This flower starts from a soft bulb and should be planted in either sun or a lightly shaded area. While the grape hyacinth is not too fickle when in gardens, you should still avoid extreme temperatures to ensure they grow properly. Plant bulbs in the fall, and you are going to have gorgeous blooms by mid-spring.
Plant the bulbs in groups of about twelve or so. They should be set in holes that are nearly twice as deep as their height. Each cluster of bulbs should be spread out by a couple of inches. Then, all you need to do is cover them back up with moist soil. The leaves appear rather quickly and spread fast. When you pick a location for them, make sure they have enough room to unfurl.
Calendulas are simple plants to have in your garden. These flowers are often called pot marigolds and start from seeds. These bright and sunny blooms are perfect for attracting bees and other pollinating insects, while keeping garden pests out. You can begin to grow calendulas indoors in a pot and transfer them to your yard when grown.
If you prefer to plant the seeds in your garden, the process isn’t complicated. Plant them in early spring to ensure they are going to bloom by summer. They require sun, so pick a spot that is exposed to light for most of the day. Calendulas can grow in unfertilized soil and just require light watering at most.
When the flowers reach maturity, you can cut them back to encourage new growth. You are going to find with these plants that they are tough to kill. They even handle some frost and drought. These are perfect for any beginner!
Hollyhocks can grow up to six feet tall, which can be a sight for any young gardener! These flowers are considered biennials or perennials, depending on what type you decide to plant. They do require rich soil and full sun. If you are planting seeds, get them into the ground about a week or so before the first frost hits. The seeds don’t need to be too deep in the soil to sprout.
After the seeds are planted, hollyhocks don’t need a lot of maintenance. As you watch them sprout and mature, you just need to pay attention to the leaves. The plants are known to mildew, so all you need to do is pull off the affected foliage. If you do that, all that is left is watching them wander to unbelievable heights! The pinks and purples of the blooms are sure to put you in the best summertime mood.
The buddleia is a bush that attracts some of the prettiest animals and insects nature has to offer. There is no doubt as to why this plant is called a “butterfly bush.” As it grows and matures, the beautiful winged insect is drawn to the fragrance of the flowers. Hummingbirds also drink the sap that is produced. It is all so fascinating to watch.
As the buddleia grows, you soon see vast masses of blossoms that appear in summer and fall. If this sounds like a plant your little gardener can enjoy, there is minimal care to get the most out of this plant. Plant these bushes between spring and fall. When placing the plant in your soil, the top of the roots should be ground level.
Plants should be spaced at least five feet apart and watered well. The buddleia does grow fast, so take care to cut back the areas that need some upkeep. When you do, you are guaranteed to have a colorful shrub that your little can be proud to call their own.
The bellflower is a plant that is as unique as its name. It can grow fast and leaves a lasting impression in any garden. As the plant matures, you are soon going to notice long tubular blooms that peek out from the ends. It is stunning to watch and cultivate.
The flowers hang from the curling stalks of the plants in colors that include red, pink, and purple. The plants grow best in full sun but can also do well in partial shade. When planting, have your child use well-drained soil that is moist to the touch. As long as you keep the plant well watered, it can take off from there. Bellflowers don’t need much hands-on care and look wonderful in a vase with other flowers.
Who doesn’t love a sunflower? These pretty blooms are widely known for their bright yellow petals and tall stalks. They are the epitome of summer and fall flowers. To get the most out of these blooms, plant your seeds in full sunlight.
These flowers can grow several feet tall, depending on the variety you choose. As you watch the head blossom, have your child pay attention to the interaction it has with the sun. The flower heads turn and follow the sun all day long! It is going to leave them spellbound.
As per its name, sunflowers need full sun to reach their potential. Allow plenty of room for the roots to take hold and the long stalks to grow. If you are planning to grow them for their seeds, take care as to when you do so. The heads of the plant are usually ready by early fall. When they are primed to be harvested, you can cut the head off and hang them in a dry area away from insects. As they dry, cover the heads with a bag to catch the falling seeds. They are ready to eat when fully dried.
Sunflowers are a great way to get two uses out of the plant. Not only can your child watch the bloom grow to a fully mature flower, but parts of the plant are also edible. These plants can supply months of fun for your family!
Easy to Grow Vegetables
If you want to plant more than just flowers in your garden, your young grower has a treasure trove of vegetables to choose from. Here are some of the most straightforward and effortless veggies to select:
Snap peas are an easy way to start your vegetable garden. The peas come from large seeds that make it easy for little hands to grab on to. When you plant them, make sure they are spaced a few inches away from each other and given plenty of sunlight and water.
As the snap peas grow, they may need some support to help them grow well. All you need is a standard tomato cage to place in the garden bed. Have fun while you help the vines to intertwine along the cage. A simple placement is all it takes.
In about eight to twelve months, you are going to have your first crop of snap peas to harvest and eat. When you are ready to pluck them from the vine, there is no need to shell them. They taste great whole and raw! It’s a great teachable moment when it comes to gardening. As the snap pea plant gets more substantial, you can have your child describe what they see and smell. It’s authentic hands-on learning!
Cherry tomatoes are the perfect sized tomato for your young child. They grow a little larger than a standard marble and are perfectly fine to eat right off the vine. These tomatoes can be red, gold, green, or maroon. They are all sweet and perfectly juicy when matured.
The easiest way to include tomatoes into your garden is by buying a small plant at your local nursery. They should have dozens of varieties ready for growing. These plants are the fastest types of tomatoes to ripen.
When you are ready to transplant the tomatoes into the soil, try to choose a warm but cloudy day to do so. This method cuts back on any shock the vines may feel when they start to root. Include a sturdy cage, as the vines get bigger. In several weeks, you are going to have tomatoes that are ideal for your favorite summer salad.
Pumpkins are a fun plant to include in your garden. Of course, they are a popular plant with kids, so it is going to be easy to convince them to try to grow a gourd or two. Take a handful of seeds and place them about two inches deep in your soil. Mid-spring is the best time to plant the seeds to guarantee a fall show.
The seeds love a warm and moist environment, so make sure you choose a planting location that has sun. You can also cover the soil with a plastic tarp to warm up the earth if you need to. This process speeds up the germination process and prevents over-saturation when it rains.
Give your pumpkins plenty of room to grow. As they get stronger, thin out the vines to ensure they mature. Have your child cut back on the densest areas. By the beginning of fall, you are going to have gorgeous pumpkins that are ready to make their Halloween debut!
Potatoes are versatile plants that are fun to grow and even more entertaining to harvest. Plant your seed potatoes in five inches of soil. Loosely cover and compost. Potatoes can be planted between early spring and mid-summer. Allow them three months to grow and mature before you start pulling the tubers out. They are ready when the leaves begin to die.
Now comes the exciting part! You can have your child excavate for the potatoes that are in the dirt. It is like searching for edible buried treasure! Use your hands to dig around and pull all of those tasty taters that are waiting to be cooked. If a potato is accidentally cut or scratched, use those immediately. You can mash, boil, roast, and fry your heart out!
Cucumbers are another vegetable that your child can learn to grow. Choose which type of plant you want before planting. Some are good for pickling, while others aren’t. You can always sow both types of cucumber plants to add variety to your garden.
Cucumbers take a few months to mature. When they are ready to be picked, feel for firmness, and observe the color. The green hue should be uniform throughout and shouldn’t have a mushy consistency. As soon as the cucumber is plucked, you can immediately eat them or prepare them for the pickling process.
These plants have big seeds that can be grouped into about eight per hole. Start planting in mid-spring and use fertile soil that is well aerated. If you want your plants to grow upwards, have them start on a trellis. This method is excellent for gardens that don’t have a lot of area to work with.
Radishes are not picky growers at all. It doesn’t matter what type of garden you have; these things grow fast! After a few days of planting seeds, sprouts appear. Take care when watering the soil, as they can become waterlogged if it’s too much.
After four weeks, radishes are usually ready to pick and eat. They can grow from spring through fall and are the ideal vegetable to have your littlest gardener try to sow. They are going to be impressed at the speed of the harvest and the delicious taste that comes from a plant they helped to create!
Have your child plant carrots in the springtime. They not only grow well in a garden, but can also do well in deep pots positioned in your yard. This option is great for those who have hard or clay-like soil at home.
Baby carrots appear just a few weeks after planting. There are so many types to choose from also. Let your child have some fun when choosing what they want to plant. There are orange carrots, as well as white, yellow, and purple! See if they can notice a difference in taste and texture when they are ready to be eaten. There are so many ways to make these plants a tasty experiment.
If you have a young gardener that enjoys the planting process of the garden, have them plant beans. The legumes are large enough for the smallest hands to carry, and they can be sown in your garden bed or a large pot.
As the beans sprout from just a few inches below the surface, notice how the leaves twine and stretch at all angles. You can leave them to grow on the ground or use a trellis or some other support to encourage them to crawl upwards.
Bean leaves can be harvested and eaten if you want to try them. They have a similar texture to spinach when boiled. If you’re going to wait for the first few green beans to appear, give them a couple of months to fully mature. You can enjoy your pods on the grass or bring them inside to include with one of your meals.
Lettuce is a fun and crunchy vegetable that is a great base to salads, sandwiches, and more. How exciting could it be for your little one to choose a head of lettuce for the family’s dinner? The best part about these plants is the ease of growth.
Choose seedlings to plant. You can get them at any nursery and include a few different varieties. Plant the seedlings in partial shade or full sunlight—they can handle either condition. In just a few short weeks, you can have your first head of lettuce ready to be picked, washed, and eaten. Remember to make sure the leaves are cleaned before you start making that delicious salad!
Green onions are another vegetable that you can eat right out of the garden. They only need average soil to grow. Place the seeds or seedlings in full sunlight or partial shade. They are tolerant to colder temperatures, so if you live in a region that sees frost early, these plants can weather that storm.
As the plants start to grow, you can snip off the green stalks for food use. It is edible raw or cooked. You can also lift clumps of the onion grass if need be. If you do, make sure to replant what you take so you can have onions growing for months on end. Edible stalks are dark green and give off a strong aroma, especially when cut.
Your young gardener can also grow the onions indoors. Make sure the plants are kept in a cool and dry indoor environment. Replant the crops as if you were planting outdoors. When cut, you can store in a plastic bag in your refrigerator for a few days. Green onions are ideal to have in your favorite meals, soups, or salads.
Growing a garden with your child is not only fun, but it is educational too. Have fun picking out plants for your yard and teach your child the basics of caring for a part of nature. Planting flowers together doesn’t have to be a perfect process; just enjoy the experience. As your child starts gaining more and more gardening knowledge, there are no limits to where their imagination can take them. Just look at your garden for proof!