10 Plants to Grow with Kids (Kids Gardening Guide)
Backyard gardening with your kids can be a rewarding experience for all involved and is a great way to make memories while teaching your children where food comes from. It does not have to take up much space or time, but this simple family activity could help shape your child’s health, habits and concern for the environment in the future.
Here are just a handful of the reasons you should include your kids in your backyard gardening:
1. Teaching kids to garden helps them learn how to care for living things.
2. Teaching kids to grow plants helps them connect to nature and care about the environment.
3. Growing food plants in youth encourages healthier eating habits later in life.
4. Gardening with kids encourages them to spend more time outside.
5. This type of family activity allows you to spend time together and make memories.
6. Hands-on, outdoor activities encourage kids to put down their electronic devices for a bit.
7. It gives you an opportunity to teach your children something, which is good for you and them.
If you would like to read more about the benefits of getting your kids into gardening, check out “5 Reasons You Should Garden with Your Kids.”
Backyard Gardening: 10 Food Plants and Flowers to Grow with Kids
You can involve your children in growing just about anything, but it is easier to get them interested and hold their attention if you choose particular plants. For example, food plants that grow faster will keep them more interested in gardening. To help you determine which food plants and flowers to grow with your children, here are ten options that are good choices for getting kids interested in backyard gardening.
1. Radishes: While it may be true that some children are not excited when they see radishes on their plates, this is a great place to start. One of the benefits of growing radishes is that it just might encourage your kids to want to eat them. The main benefit of choosing radishes, though, is that they grow very quickly. You can go from planting seeds to harvesting your crop in just 30 days, which is very fast in the world of food plants. Your kids will also be able to see the greens growing quickly as they care for them for that short maturation period, which should help keep them interested. Learn more about growing radishes here.
2. Spinach: Spinach is another fast-growing food plant that is easy to grow with kids. This one can even be grown in a container on your patio, on a windowsill or in a vertical garden, which makes it a great choice for folks with small backyards. This is another one that kids do not always get excited about eating, but if they grow it themselves this could change. If you are not a big fan of spinach, just about any lettuce is just as easy to grow and can also be grown in a container or vertical garden.
3: Carrots: Carrots do not grow as fast as radishes, but they are incredibly easy to care for, have greens that your children can watch grow, and are usually among the vegetables that kids will actually eat without much of a fight. Plus, they are so versatile in the kitchen that you know you are going to use any carrots that your family grows. Some cooking options include roasting the carrots, using them in soups or stews, cutting them up for quick snacks, baking carrot bread or cake, or cooking them as a side dish.
4. Celery: Celery is, perhaps, the best food plant to use as an introduction to gardening for your children. This is because they can actually see a difference in the celery the very first day. Now, this is not true if you plant seeds, but this is one of the many foods that you can actually grow from kitchen scraps. Next time a recipe calls for celery, cut all of the stalks off at once while leaving about two to three inches of the bottom of the bunch intact. Place the bottom of your celery bunch in a bowl of water on the windowsill in your kitchen, and you should begin to see a small amount of growth from the center stalks later that day. Your kids will be able to see how much the celery grows each day until it has some roots growing from the bottom and it is time to plant it in the garden. You can use the leaves and stalks as it grows, which also makes this a good choice for keeping kids interested in gardening over time.
Growing celery from the leftover end of the bunch can also help teach your children thriftiness and how to reduce waste.
5. Pumpkins: Pumpkins require a bit more patience than radishes or spinach, but the vine grows relatively quickly, and this option is just a lot of fun. One of the best ways to introduce your kids to gardening through pumpkins is to save the seeds from your Halloween pumpkin to plant the following spring to grow your own pumpkins for the next Halloween. Growing their own Halloween pumpkins is the biggest benefit of this option, but it can also save you money next Halloween and introduces your children to seed saving.
- How to Grow Pumpkins for Halloween this Year
- Growing Pumpkins Guide: How to Grow Giant Pumpkins, Unique Varieties + PRO Tips
6. Tomatoes: Tomatoes make this list because they are just so easy to grow in the ground or in containers on your patio. Plus, you can start from plants that are already a pretty good size so that your children do not have to wait as long to start seeing tomatoes on the vine. Cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes are good choices for harvesting with little hands, and this is a fun one to let them eat right out of that garden – just be sure you grew them organically and give them a quick rinse with the garden hose first.
7. Lavender: Lavender may seem like an odd choice for a kid’s garden, but this beautiful, fun-to-grow herb can withstand quite a bit and is easy to grow. It also attracts pollinators, which includes butterflies – making this a great choice for a butterfly garden. The best part about growing lavender with kids is that you can teach them just how many uses some plants can have. For example, after harvesting lavender flowers, you can bake with them or use them in salads, or you can dry them for tea and craft projects, such as making sachets, eye pillows or soap.
8. Basil: Basil is another easy-to-grow herb that is fun to grow with kids. They can harvest the leaves for use in soups, salads and sauces, which may increase their interest in the culinary arts. As an added bonus, you can even eat the blossoms, so when the plant reaches the end of its life cycle, you can enjoy the blossoms with your kids.
9. Marigolds: Marigolds are easy to grow, can withstand rough treatment by little hands, and attract butterflies and bees to your garden. They also provide pest control for food plants, so you may want to plant marigolds around the border of your garden. Some varieties are even edible, so if you think that it might be fun to eat flowers with our kids, look for one of the edible varieties to plant in your backyard garden.
10. Sunflowers: Kids love sunflowers, and that is reason enough to add them to your backyard garden. Since they germinate in about a week, children can begin to watch the sprouts grow pretty quickly after planting, which is good for short attention spans. Depending on the variety you choose, your kids will be able to watch them in awe as they grow taller than them, then taller than you, then taller than the fence to tower over the rest of the garden. Harvest the seeds and dry them for sunflower seed snacks, or you can sprinkle them around the garden or add them to your birdfeeder to attract birds to your garden. This added bonus allows you to go beyond teaching them about and interesting them in gardening to also include encouraging a connection with nature and wildlife – with some backyard birdwatching on the side!