Two traits make kids great gardeners: curiosity and a love for playing in the dirt. Come spring, a garden sets the stage for unique, hands-on learning opportunities in a whole host of subjects – from geology and geometry to math – and offers families an opportunity to spend time together. Why not sneak a few seed packets into your child’s stocking this year? It’s a nifty (and thrifty) way to get them excited about gardening.
Keep in mind that, like grown-ups, younger folks need to see results. The more fruitful your gardening efforts, the more likely they are to stick with it. With that in mind, here is a short list of plants that are easy to grow and harvest so you can help set your little gardeners up for success.
Sprouts in 7-10 days. These immediate signs of life are appreciated by all gardeners. Plus, lettuce is a veggie you’ll actually use in the kitchen. Harvest whole heads for salads or tear off a few leaves for sandwiches.
Another rapid grower. Snow peas are winners because they can be eaten directly off the vine, pod and all.
Very reliable and a familiar friend to kids, the potato rarely disappoints. Try a smaller variety like Yukon Gold or Red Rose for quicker harvesting. These are another great crop to transition kids from the garden to the kitchen. They are willing mashers and top-notch topping sprinklers.
Pumpkin, Melon or something else big!
Granted, not all gardens are big enough to host a spreading plant like a pumpkin or melon. If you do have the room, helping a tiny seed grow into a big old veggie or fruit is thrilling stuff for gardeners young and old.
Cilantro, basil, mint, dill, chives and thyme are just a few of the herbs that children can quickly learn to recognize and, most importantly, use! Perhaps the best thing about growing herbs is that it can be done in the smallest of spaces. Even a windowsill will do.
So, if you’re scrambling for some ‘stuffing’, head to your local garden center to pick up a variety of seed packets. They’re a sweet deal at $1-4 a pop. Try these local centers for the best seeds and variety:
Armstrong Garden Center (multiple locations throughout Orange County), contact at 626-914-1091.
Roger’s Gardens, 2301 San Joaquin Hills, Newport Beach, contact at 949-640-5800.
Orange County Farm Supply, 1826 W. Chapman, Orange, contact at 714-978-6500.
And you? What successes have you and your children had in the garden? Do you think they’d like to find seeds in their stocking?