Ten Top Crops For Kids
Here are 10 relatively, easy to grow crops with short growing
seasons and are fun to harvest.
Sunflowers will sprout in 1 week, become a small seedling in 2
weeks, and should be 2' tall in a month. They do take up a lot of
room when grown. In 8 weeks, the buds will flower revealing
hundreds of seed kernels.
A quick and reliable crop to give the child fast results, and 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 40-50 days. You can
grow 'head' (space 8" apart) or 'leaf' (space 4" apart) varieties;
the leaf varieties will mature sooner, about 30-35 days.
Quick results for the young 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" apart. Plant in cool weather for best
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 shaded 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
they can be grown without a trellis.
Plant in full sun and use seedlings rather than planting from
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 leaves dry. Growing season is
50-75 days. Cherry tomatoes can also be grown in containers
These flowers are easy to grow and yield results quickly, which
encourages the young gardener. Nasturtiums bloom 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. The
flowers are edible, and can be used to add colour to a fresh garden
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" apart. Grow
in direct sun; water the soil but try to keep the leaves dry. Bush
beans don't need poles or trellises to grow.
Seeds can be sown directly into soil; carrots prefer cooler
temperatures. They can be slow to germinate, so be patient. Carrots
will mature in about 60 days. The soil should be free of rocks and
easy for the carrot to grow 'down'. Keep well-watered and thin to
every 3" because crowding will produce foliage but no root. Small
varieties are recommended for children, as they're easier to grow
and more fun to eat.
Red vaireties will mature faster. Children seem to favor the red
variety. Cut seed potatoes into chunks with at least 2 'eyes' per.
Plant in furrows, about 12-15" apart, with eyes pointing upward.
Mound soil up around plant as it grows; harvest when plant
Plant seeds in a small hill; poke three holes in the hill and put
one seed in each hole. Seeds will sprout in about 1 week; after a
few days, vine leaves 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.
You might want to try:
corn - a heavy feeder, corn needs lots of compost
or fertilizer, and requires a lot of growing space in relation to
the size of the harvest. If the plants aren't "knee high by the 4th
of July", the ears will be small. In our garden, either the crows
got the seedlings, or the plants just never got big enough to yield
a good harvest.
green onions - easy to grow, but kind of
zucchini - easy, fast, and impressive size, but
it takes a good recipe like chocolate zucchini cake to
get children excited about zucchini.
strawberries - great, but can be a struggle with
the predators. We chose the 'ever-bearing' strawberry varieties
which have smaller fruit but which bear all summer. You can net the
plants from the birds and squirrel,
but sometimes the birds get caught in the net.
gardening with children
Give them their own garden beds. Whether you use raised beds,
containers or ground plots, be sure to give each child his or her
own separate plot. Keep it small, very small for young kids. Put
their plots right in the middle of the action, with the best soil
and light. Set them up for success.
Reuse the sandbox. If your children have grown past their sandbox
years, consider converting the old sandbox to a garden bed. This
gives the child continued 'ownership' of a familiar space and
encourages a sense of responsibility to the gardening project.
A productive garden bed needs to be in good sunlight and the
best soil you can find. Add compost to the soil to improve the
qulity. It may be necessary to relocate the sandbox if growing
conditions are less than ideal.
Give them serious tools. Cheap plastic child's gardening tools
are worse than no tools at all; they break easily and frustrate the
Engage them from seed to table. Children learn better when they
understand the context of their activity. They will learn that
gardening can be fun, but far more than idle play; they are
contributing to the family well-being. Besides planting and
nurturing their garden beds, be sure they alone do the harvesting
and preparation of their crop for the table, no matter how modest