When you’re a child, there’s something just plain magical about a garden.
I remember being a kid and excitedly helping my grandparents pick green beans from their summer garden, and I have incredibly fond memories of sitting in my great grammy’s blueberry fields and picking (okay, mostly eating) those Maine blueberries to my heart’s content.
Even now, as an adult, I still get giddy with joy when my green bean seeds sprout or my tomato plant starts bearing fruit, and I still swoon over the mouthwatering taste of fresh fruits and veggies right out of the garden. And I would bet that if you ever spent time with a parent or grandparent in the garden as a kid then you probably feel the same way.
That’s because gardening shapes a child’s love of food as an adult; it teaches kids where food comes from and instills in them a profound appreciation of fresh food grown with their own two hands.
I don’t know about you, but I really want that for my kids! That’s why I’ll always do my best to have a kid-friendly garden in our backyard. Whether I can manage a full garden bed or just a simple pot with one tomato plant that year, I want my kids to experience that joy and wonder (and downright deliciousness) that comes with growing your own food.
The thought of putting all that time and effort into growing your own food and then allowing your kids to stick their inexperienced hands right into the garden can be a little overwhelming though, right? I totally get it.
After all, kids aren’t exactly skilled or careful gardeners, so how do you choose what to grow in your kid-friendly summer garden? How do you cultivate a garden that productively grows food while also creating a safe and fun learning experience for your little ones?
Thankfully, it’s not as difficult as it might sound. There are an abundance of foods that are easy to grow and also safe and fun for kids to enjoy right alongside you!
Things to consider when choosing what to grow in your kid-friendly summer garden:
What will kids be able to pick?
Try opting for low-growing plants, and choose bush varieties (versus vining plants that will need to be trellised several feet up) when you can. That way your kids will be able to reach the plants when helping you harvest.
Which plants are safe to touch?
Avoid plants that have thorns or prickly bushes like raspberries or blackberries. The last thing we want is for gardening to be a painful experience!
What can kids eat directly out of the garden?
Choose foods that are safe and fun to eat right out of the garden. Avoid spicy produce like hot peppers, and consider smaller “snacking” varieties of plants like sweet peppers and tomatoes that are easy to pick and eat right off the plant.
What do your kids enjoy eating?
Involve your kids when deciding what to grow. They’ll be excited to help if they know there are foods they love growing in the backyard!
What would you like your kids to try?
Pick at least 1 or 2 foods that your kids either haven’t tried or have been hesitant to warm up to, since kids are more likely to try and accept foods they’ve grown themselves. You can also try choosing some fun varieties of plants that you can’t find in the grocery store, like purple or striped heirloom tomatoes, to make trying something new more exciting.
What if you want to grow something that isn’t “kid-friendly?”
If there are other things you want to grow that aren’t kid friendly, try growing that food a separate bed or in a pot away from the kid-friendly garden space. That way your kids will know where they can safely dig, pick and eat.
What to grow in your kid-friendly summer garden:
Not sure what to plant this year? All of these kid-friendly fruits and veggies are safe to eat from the garden, easy to pick, and fun to grow!
- Lettuce (any variety!)
- Herbs (mint, sage, basil, parsley, dill, etc.)
- Cherry tomatoes (We love both traditional red cherry tomatoes and Sun Gold cherry tomatoes at our house.)
- Heirloom tomatoes (Try some fun colored varieties like Cherokee Purple Tomatoes or Green Zebra Tomatoes!)
- Sweet bell peppers
- Snacking peppers (like these Lunchbox Sweet Snacking Peppers)
- Green beans (Try bush bean varieties instead of pole beans so they’ll be easier for kids to pick.)
- Snap Peas (Try the bush variety of these for easier picking, too.)
Now that you have a better idea of what to grow in your kid-friendly summer garden, I hope you’re excited to get out there and garden with your kids. Even if all you have time or space for is a couple of pots on your back porch, that’s more than good enough! After all, gardening isn’t just about growing food. Gardening is also a wonderful learning experience for kids and a chance to create family memories that will last a lifetime.