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Springtime gardens for children

Fresh locally-grown vegetables, a source of antioxidants according to the American Heart Association.
Fresh locally-grown vegetables, a source of antioxidants according to the American Heart Association.
Photo by David Silverman/Getty Images

Spring in is an excellent time to begin planning a garden. There are a huge variety of plants that can be easily grown in the backyard garden during the spring. For children, some of the favorites include beans, peas and tomatoes. Packages of seeds for all three of these vegetables can be obtained at local big-box home improvement stores and at local nurseries.

Peas: Peas should be planted as soon as the danger of frost has passed. Peas, will sprout within 7-10 days of planting and require support. A trellis, rope or mesh wire can serve as support for peas. Sugar snap peas, in which the entire pod can be eaten, are easy to grow and can be harvested 50-60 days after planting. If your children are interested in growing a showy flowering plant, sweet peas are an excellent choice. Most sweet pea flowers are highly fragrant and come in a wide variety of colors. These peas do not produce a pod that can be eaten. Both sugar snap and sweet peas can grow 6+ feet in height if proper support is provided. Peas grow well during the cool springtime. Once temperatures rise, pea plants wilt and eventually die.

Beans: Bean seeds sprout when soil temperatures are between 60-70F. They can be started inside and moved to the outdoor garden after the danger of frost has passed. There are primarily two major types of beans grown in the backyard garden, bush and pole beans. Bush beans grow to <2 feet and do not need support while pole beans can reach heights of >10 feet. In general, bush beans will produce an entire large crop all at the same time while pole beans produce a steady harvest over the entire growing season. By staggering planting of bush beans every two weeks, the harvest season can be expanded. Bush beans can be harvested in as little as 50 days after planting while pole beans, in general, require >70 to mature.

Tomatoes: Tomatoes need to be planted after the danger of frost has passed. Plants can either be purchased from a local nursery or can be started from seed. In general, starting plants from seed is much cheaper and increases the variety of plants that can be grown. Tomato seeds can be planted in pots beginning in February and either grown indoors or outside on warm winter days until the danger of frost has past. Tomato plants are easily transplanted from pots into the home garden.

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