For families that rely on vegetable gardens to help with grocery costs, it’s never too early to teach our children the basics of growing their own food. When my children were still toddlers, I had them “helping” with sowing seeds, watering and harvesting. As they got older, we added tasks that required a bit more skill, such as transplanting, pruning and staking.
Teaching your children to garden gives them the skills they need to grow their own food as adults. Making this chore fun starts by growing kid-friendly vegetables that they will enjoy tending as well as eating. Here are five of my children’s favorite garden veggies.
Gold nugget cherry tomatoes
Fresh tomatoes are an acquired taste, which is why I started my children on the mild-tasting gold nugget cherry tomatoes as toddlers. This tomato variety is easy to grow, easy to harvest, super prolific, and starts fruiting as early as July. My children prefer gold nugget cherry tomatoes plain or halved and tossed with fresh basil and a vinaigrette.
Another super easy vegetable for the beginning gardener, kids especially love zucchini because of how huge the plant and fruit can get. We harvest the zucchinis when they are size of a banana. My children’s favorite way to eat them is baked into quick breads, as part of a shish kabob or grilled on the barbecue with a smattering of olive oil and garlic salt.
Peas are another family favorite, and even though they do take up quite a bit of space, we always find room for them in the garden. What’s particularly enjoyable about growing peas is how fun they can be to harvest them since it’s a little bit like playing hide and seek in the vegetable patch. My children prefer eating peas raw out of the garden though will eat them steamed with a dab of butter and fresh thyme for dinner.
Most children enjoy growing cucumbers but the variety my children enjoyed the most are the lemon cucumbers which are lemon in shape, size and color. Lemon cucumber plants are very prolific and the fruit itself has a nifty kaleidoscope pattern when sliced on the diagonal. These are delicious eaten plain or sliced and tossed with a splash of lemon juice and fresh dill.
I only started growing these myself about five years ago, but they quickly became a favorite with my teen who loved both the globe shape of the Parisian Carrots and its sweet flavor. This variety of carrots are ideal for container gardens or rocky soil and are easy to grow as radishes. My teen eats these straight from the garden, but they are also delicious cooked then drizzled with parsley butter.
The secret to getting your children interested in gardening is by including vegetables that are fun to grow, fun to harvest and delicious to eat. These five vegetables are winners with my children and should work for your kids too.
More by this contributor:
How to get your teen interested in vegetable gardening.
10 tips for starting summer vegetable seeds indoors
8 high yield vegetables for the garden