There are a number of fun ways to introduce even your youngest children to the joys of nature in your own backyard. The thing to remember is not to turn gardening into a chore. Kids love digging in the dirt anyway, and here you are practically giving them a free pass to make mud!
Kids are learning a lot more about nutrition in school these days, so bring the lesson home. Even the pickiest little eater can be encouraged to eat salad if he or she has grown it all. Outdoor planting time for most fruits and vegetables is early through late spring, though leeks, onions, radishes, peas, and potatoes can be planted in winter in many regions.
They’ll be available in your local nursery as soon as the weather is right for planting them. There are hundreds of varieties, from modern hybrids to heirloom types, but make sure to include the little cherry tomatoes that kids can pick right off the vine and eat in one bite.
Cucumbers come in either bush or vining varieties, and are easy to grow from seed. They’re very prolific, so you don’t need to plant a lot of them.
Lettuce, spinach, kale, and other leafy vegetables can be grown nearly year-round in some climates. You can start the seeds indoors for a head start in colder areas.
Some varieties of sunflowers are as short as a few feet, but some grow to over 15 feet tall and will enthrall a young gardener. Check the seed packets to get the kind you want.
They’re easy to grow, and once they mature, there will be plenty of seeds to feed the birds and to toast for family snacks, too.
It’s gratifying for kids to see the results of their efforts, so here are some flowers that pop up more quickly than others:
Marigolds. These bright golden flowers germinate in just a few days and blossom only 45 to 50 days after planting.