April and May are the perfect months for planing new gardens. Small backyard gardens are great opportunities for learning, play, family bonding, and more. Children who grow their own food are far more likely to make healthier food choices. There's nothing we want more than for our children to grow up with the ability to make choices that have a positive impact on their health and well-being.
There are many other benefits to gardening with children - they get a sense of accomplishment, a chance to care for something delicate, and plenty of time outdoors under the sun getting some much needed vitamin D.
While there are a plethora of delicious choices you can make for your garden, there are some plants that are especially easy for children to grow or help grow. Here are 5 easy plants to grow in your garden this year with your children.
Sunflowers are a great staple in any garden, but especially in a child's garden. They grow quickly and are quite large. You only need to plant a couple depending on the amount of space you have. Sunflowers will sprout in a week, become a seedling in two weeks, and be nearly 2 feet tall in a month. Once they bloom, about 8 weeks, they will reveal their seed kernels. These can be roasted for a tasty snack. Be sure to get the confectionery sunflower variety so the seeds are edible.
Lettuce is hardy and easy to grow, making it a great option for kids. The leaf varieties mature faster, and like part-shade. They take 7-10 days to germinate and mature in about 30-35 days. They are sure to get your child interested in making a salad with their own lettuce!
Cherry tomatoes are very fun to grow, and delicious to eat right off the vine. It's better to plant them from seedlings as opposed to from seed. You can drive a 2' stake beside each plant and loosely tie them to keep them upright. They like full sun and compost, and will mature in about 50-75 days.
Snap Peas are popular among kids because of their fresh sweet flavour. The seeds are easy to handle for kids, and they grow quickly. They will germinate in about 2 weeks and be ready to pick and eat in a month or two. When harvesting, teach kids to pick them gently (a great learning opportunity!) so that they do not pull the entire plant out of the ground with the peas.
Pumpkins are a must have for any child's garden as they have so many uses. Pumpkin seeds are delicious roasted as a snack. The meat inside can be used for baking, soups, or other treats, and the outer part can be used for carving! Pumpkins will be ready to harvest in about 80-120 days.
As we said above, there are so many benefits to including children in your gardening. Giving them a sense of responsibility, ownership, and care at an early age will set them up for success at other endeavors in the future. They will also grow an appreciation for where food comes from. There are also science and nature lessons to be had!
For further reading on gardening with children, check out our other blogs below!
- 10 Ways Children Benefit From Nature
- Tips for Gardening With Kids
- Our Kinder-Garden Grows Healthy Food
- Why kids Need Time in Nature
- Why Playing Outside is So Important
Barrie Based Discovery Child Care brings nature into the classroom and takes the classroom into nature, offering an environmentally aware foundation of early learning for children, from infants to school-age. We follow an Emergent Curriculum philosophy which means, your child will be provided with hands-on, play-based learning opportunities that will encourage active exploration, autonomy, choice, problem solving and plain old fun! Your child’s individual interests, abilities and needs will be considered when planning our indoor and outdoor programs. For more information, visit http://www.discoverychild.on.ca