A lot of you like me have some little side-kicks running around and helping you with your yard. I personally love gardening with my kids- and think we have a responsibility as parents/grandparents to teach our kids about nature and how to grow some basic things. The most important thing we can teach them is that growing things is SO MUCH FUN!! And it's magical and really a miracle in an of itself. Really if you think about it-- why does a tiny seed grow into something delicious to eat or beautiful to look at, or sweet to smell? It's a God given miracle!
I hope you enjoy my top 10 things to grow with kids!
1. Cherry Tomatoes- Need I say more, bite size bliss. Just the right size for kids to eat by the handful. They love to pick and eat these and watch them grow from tiny little plants into a tangled mess.
2. Pumpkins- of any size really, giant or tiny- kids love to watch them grow, turn orange, and pick them when they are ready. Some you can eat, paint, carve or just use for decoration. The seeds are big and easy for little hands to plant, and they germinate quickly!
3. Berries- I love anything for kids that they can go out and pick and eat right away. (I keep all of my plants organic so this isn't a problem) Strawberries, raspberries and yes especially thorn-less blackberries are always a hit. If you live where you can grow blueberries I would do it for sure....though they are a little bit of a picky plant to grow.
4. Green beans- What? your kids don't like green beans? It is amazing what they will try and eat by the bucketfuls if they can see it grow themselves. My kids eat green beans out of the garden like crazy- there is nothing quite as good. They are easy to grow and easy to pick kids love them.
5. Squash- there are so many different kinds to choose from and believe me the best thing a kid likes about a garden is picking stuff. Most squash will keep them picking all summer long. And they may even like to eat it if they grew it themselves. So many different shapes and colors from zucchini to eight ball, banana to acorn. We love them all.
6. Sunflowers (Helianthus) - again the seeds are huge, kids can plant them easily and the seedlings are big and easy to care for. You can get so many different varieties but I like the very tall ones for my kids because they like to measure who's grows taller. Get a variety with edible seeds too- kids love them.
7. Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)- This is a shrub-like perennial that grows very well in almost any full sun location. The reason I like it so much for kids is that it has a gorgeous purple spike-like bloom that attracts butterflies and bees like crazy. Be a little careful not to plant it too close to your house entrance because of the bees, but get ready to sit nearby with your little one and watch the busy little guys at work. (It attracts honey bees which are very docile and harmless NOT like wasps/hornets so don't worry!)
8. Bulbs- I don't know about you but my little people get almost as excited about seeing the first flower of the season as I do. They are much more aware of the earth and most of the time find the first bloom first! Bulbs are so fun for them to watch with their huge flowers and amazing fragrances. Hyacinth is my favorite for kids because it smells so heavenly. I love to pick a few flowers from the bunch and give them to my kids to smell over and over-- heck I do it myself too. It is also fun to grow enough that they can help you pick some to take indoors.
9. Lambs Ear (Stachys byzantina)- You can't forget this kids favorite! The fuzzy leaf is unique and fun for any age to feel and explore. It is great as a border plant and does well in full sun locations. The only thing I don't like about this plant is the bloom, too tall and messy looking for me. I usually cut it off right away, but the fuzziness can't be beat!
10. Salvia (Sage)- This beautiful flowering perennial/annual in some varieties are like magnets to hummingbirds. Last summer I used the annual Cardinal Red Salvia and I was amazed at how many humming birds we saw. Make sure it is a variety with long tube like flowers because that is what the hummingbirds like. The perennial Salvia guaranitica is a good choice or just stick with the annual (Cardinal red)- it blooms all summer instead of only a few months. Sit nearby when you have some blooms and teach your kids about an amazing tiny little bird!
Do you have a favorite you like to grow with your kids? Comment to add to the list!