One of the greatest gifts we can give to our children is the knowledge of growing food. It is a sad fact that many of today's kids have no idea where or how their food is produced. Even a small backyard plot or a few patio pots can introduce your child to the wonder of growing food from a tiny seed. Here are a few more easy plants to get your kiddo hooked on gardening.
Grocery stores typically offer only one or two types of cucumbers, but the heirloom world is full of astonishing cuke varieties. A great choice for a child's garden is the Lemon cucumber. This round, yellow-striped cuke never gets bitter even at it's mature size of three inches. The vines are heavy producers and will do best with some support, such as a trellis or tomato cage.
Lettuces are quick and easy to grow. Looseleaf or cutting lettuces need less time to mature than heading types, about 30-40 days. There are many nice mixes available for the best range of colors and textures.
Cherry tomatoes are the easiest and most prolific tomatoes your child can grow. Bite-sized cherry tomatoes are fun for kids and will continue cranking out the fruits until frost. Started plants are always available at garden centers, but if you want something more than the typical red cherry, grow your own seedlings or check out the Gardens of the Fox Cities' Heirloom Plant Sale in May in Appleton, WI. They offer quite a few distinct tomato varieties.
Morning glories are a fuss-free flower that will delight your tyke with abundant new blooms every morn. Rich soil encourages leaf growth, so plant the seeds in average soil to get the most flowers. These are climbers, so they need a trellis or fence to do their best. Two good, early heirlooms are Grandpa Ott's and President Tyler; both are bluish purple.
Finish up your kiddo's garden in the fall with some ornamental gourds. Small gourds run the gamut from round and smooth to star-shaped and warty. Get a mixed packet and plant them on a fence or trellis. They will take much of the summer to grow, but you'll have home-grown Halloween decorations that will fit in the palm of your child's hand. Johnny's Selected Seeds has a great compilation of mini gourd assortments, most notably the Goblin Eggs and Autumn Wings mixes.
It's never too early to nurture your tot's green thumb. Gardening together is a wonderful way to bond and spent time outdoors at the same time. Just make gardening fun, easy, and rewarding; your kids will learn a life skill that they may share with their own children one day.