Win the eternal battle between kids and veggies by letting your little ones plant these child-friendly varieties in your garden. The more invested they are in the growing process, the more they’ll want to eat the fruits (and veggies!) of their labor.
Heirlooms: Heirloom (non-hybrid) veggies can grow in surprising colors and wacky shapes. Try:
Italian rose beans
As an added bonus: Heirloom plants and seeds can trace their ancestry back hundreds of years, so you can slip in some history while you’re planting with your kids.
Popcorn: Your kids can grow their own popcorn — specialty kernels with tough hulls and starchy centers that produce the pop! when heated. Japanese White hull-less and Robust Yellow hybrid are popular varieties.
Grow in full sun and keep well-watered.
Leafy greens: Greens provide almost instant gratification for kids. Little hands can scatter lettuce seeds anywhere and see tiny sprouts in about a week. In a month, help them cut the tops for a salad. In hot weather, the plants will bolt (kids will love how they suddenly shoot up), flower, and go to seed, which kids can harvest for planting next year.
Pick mild, sweet varieties, such as iceberg, which are more likely to appeal to youngsters.
For some extra fun, plant leafy greens in an old wheelbarrow or unused wading pool that’s reserved as a garden space just for kids.
Climbing peas: Kids will enjoy watching these vines climb up trellises. Some popular pea seeds:
Super Sugar Snap
Mammoth Melting Sugar
Plant in full sun as soon as the soil has thawed.
Cherry tomatoes: Kids will gladly pop these sweet mini-tomatoes into their mouths straight from the vine.
Sweet 100 and Matt’s Wild Cherry are particularly yummy and sweet.
Sungold produces a golden-orange fruit.
Snow White is a pale yellow, almost white.
Jolly Elf is oblong with sweet, red fruits.
Be prepared to stake or cage the plants, because they can grow 8 feet tall. And throw on some mulch so they don’t dry out.
Pumpkins: What kid doesn’t love a pumpkin? Large seeds are easy for kids to plant in little hills surrounded by plenty of open growing space: a single vine can stretch 30 feet.
Connecticut Field is the traditional jack-o’-lantern pumpkin.
Rouge Vif d’Etampes is the Cinderella coach pumpkin.
Musquee de Provence is a flavorful, deep-brown pumpkin with orange flesh.
Cucurbita maxima is the giant pumpkin that can top 500 pounds.
Even if you can’t get your kids to eat roasted pumpkin, they’ll love the toasted and salted pumpkin seeds. Warning: never throw pumpkin pulp down the drain; it can wreck your disposal.
Potatoes: If your kids like treasure hunts, they’ll love to grow potatoes they can search for in late fall. As foliage grows, continue to add soil around the stems. Then, when the green parts die, let the kids get down and dirty digging up the spuds.
Pizza fixings: Kids can grow oregano, basil, and thyme to spice up their pizzas.
Basil likes hot weather and well-drained soil.
Oregano self-seeds, so thin plants annually.
Thyme seeds are hard to germinate, so avoid frustration and plant seedlings.