Delicate pea shoots are early risers. They’re one of the first edibles you can get in the ground and among the first you can harvest. So they'll get kids interested in gardening early in the season! Plus, peas are larger and easier to plant than most seeds, so they’re easy for wee hands to tuck into the soil.
Tip: Plant your peas as soon as your garden is workable and marvel as they push up through the soil.
Recipe: Snow Pea and Beef Tumble
Photo by chiotsrun via Flickr
Bite-sized cherry tomatoes are juicy and the perfect size for kids. They can pick them, wipe them off and pop them straight into their mouths right in the garden. They’re as addictive as candy but far healthier!
Tip: Instead of starting from seed, get transplants from your local garden centre. This way you don’t have to wait for them to germinate. Transplants will also be easier for kids to plant.
Recipe: Green Salad with Dried Cranberries and Bacon
Photo by long_division_and_x_ray_vision via Flickr
Trying to get your little busy bodies interested in nature and gardening? Just plant zucchini. Once a plant gets going, it doesn’t stop — you can practically see the fruit growing right before your eyes. Your kids will be delighted to find new zucchinis almost every time they take a peek at the plant.
Tip: Direct-sow zucchini seeds after the last frost, and watch for big, yellow flowers that will quickly turn into zucchinis. The biggest challenge will be coming up with new ways to use them!
Recipe: Zucchini Lasagna
Photo by Daveography.ca via Flickr
Surprise! Rainbow Swiss chard grows in a plethora of colours, from yellow to crimson and violet. You won’t know what colours you’ll get until it starts to sprout. Best of all, Swiss chard packs the same healthy punch as other leafy greens, such as lettuce and spinach, but is way more exciting than those single-colour veggies. You don’t have to tell your kids it’s good for them!
Tip: Pick Swiss chard while leaves are young and tender and before they become bitter.
Recipe: Chard ‘n’ Cheese Pie
Photo by godutchbaby via Flickr
Another speedy grower! Kids will get the hang of planting and harvesting multiple crops per season if they grow radishes. They sprout quickly and are easy to pull loose from the soil when they’re ready.
Tip: Buy teeny-tiny radish seeds on seed tape for easier planting.
Recipe: Greek Monster Salad
Photo by La Grande Farmers' Market via Flickr
Ground cherries might be a bit slower to get started than peas or radishes, but they’re well worth the wait. These juicy little fruits grow in paper husks and drop off the plant when they’re ripe. So collecting and unwrapping them is a fun task for kids.
Tip: Get your ground cherry seeds started early — one or two plants is plenty — then give them lots of space to grow, either in the ground or in a pot.
Recipe: Try them on top of this Classic Cheesecake.
Photo by sushiesque via Flickr
Get your kids thinking about Halloween early by planting your own pumpkins. They’ll see one small seed grow into the perfect pumpkin for a jack-o-lantern. And hollowing it out for flesh and seeds is a great way to get them thinking about the whole cycle of a plant’s life. Toast most of the seeds and share them as a snack, but save a few for next year’s crop!
Tip: Leave lots of space for your pumpkins to grow, and prop young fruit up off the ground with a brick or an overturned container so they don’t rot.
Recipe: Easy Pumpkin Buns
Photo by Marina Yach via Flickr
Amp up your family’s favourite brownies with a hit of chocolate mint, or use it in place of regular mint wherever you see fit. This plant is fun for kids because they understand its flavour better than other herbs, such as basil, oregano or rosemary. Encourage them to rub the leaves between their fingers so they can smell the oils.
Tip: Be careful with mint because it’s very invasive. It’s best to grow all types of mint in containers to prevent it from taking over your whole yard.
Recipe: Chocolate & Strawberry Ice Cream Terrine
Photo by Broken Simulacra via Flickr
There’s nothing more satisfying than pulling a homegrown carrot out of the garden! Kids won’t be able to see what the carrots look like until they harvest them, but they’ll love the thrill of discovering what was growing underground when the time finally comes. Plus, homegrown carrots don’t always look as straight and perfect as what we find in the grocery store, so kids will get a kick out of the unique shapes and sizes they find.
Tip: Sow carrots as soon as the ground is workable. The seeds are very tiny, though, so you may need to do this task for your kids. For best results, grow them in stone-free soil.
Recipe: Kale, Carrot and Feta Super Toss
Photo by Jeremy Brooks via Flickr
Most kids will recognize sunflower seeds right away. Once the seeds shoot up and the plants are taller than they are, though, they’ll be in awe — just as they will be when they see how many seeds they get from just one flower.
Tip: Plant a few sunflower seeds against a fence so you can tie up the stalks when the plants get tall and heavy. You’ll also want to find a spot where you’ll see their faces — sunflowers will point themselves east.
Recipe: Baked Homemade Granola
Photo by Jeff Campbell via Flickr
Keep up with your baby's development, get the latest parenting content and receive special offers from our partners