Creating a Children’s Vegetable Garden
|Tomatoes fit for a fairy|
Children are amazingly receptive and appreciative, especially when their parents and other family members take the time to share with them.
Not surprisingly, gardens are a particularly successful and special place where we can share with our children. And you don’t need a lot of space. You can create your child’s vegetable garden within your own herb or veggie garden; within a more general garden space; or you can use otherwise wasted space, down the side of the house or in an unused corner.
Preparing a vegetable garden that is suitable for children takes the same care and effort as any other garden designed to grow veggies. The soil needs to be well nourished and well turned over, and you generally need to be sure there is good drainage. Exactly how you feed the soil will depend on what you decide to plant, but a good deposit of manure and compost will get it going.
While you clearly need to follow good horticultural practice to ensure you get a decent yield out of your child’s veggie garden, you also need to be a lot more flexible. For instance most children love variety. So instead of planting a whole packet of one type of seed, think about planting rows of different seed – perhaps a row of radishes followed by a row of carrots followed by a row of tomatoes … While you don’t even have to grow in rows, it’s not a bad idea to do so since this can be as much a learning experience as an opportunity to share the pleasure of picking and eating directly out of the ground.
So what appeals to children the most?
|Radishes straight out
of the ground
Children are individuals and they will have their own particular likes and dislikes (it’s your job to find out what these are). But generally they like plants that are pretty as well as plants that grow as quickly as possible.
Tomatoes are a universally popular option, particularly tiny, little cherry tomatoes that look like fairy food. Carrots and radishes are also favorites, probably because of the wonderful surprise as you pull them up out of the ground. In fact fresh, crunchy radishes and carrots straight out of the ground and rinsed with a little water are so much sweeter than the type you find your supermarket, it’s surprising we don’t all grow our own.
Potatoes can also be a marvelous children’s treat, and if grown in old, worn tyres laid one on top of the other as the potatoes start to grow, take up only a small amount of space.
Beans and peas are also great for a children’s garden. Trail them over sticks or reeds stuck into the ground like a mini tepee, so that they grow over the framework and form a tepee-like shape. Picked young and fresh, kids can eat them raw.
Mealies or sweetcorn are another perfect children’s crop. They grow big and bold and then, as the corn cob forms, silky strands form magical bunches from the top of each cob.
Ultimately, find out what your child would like to grow, and then let your child’s vegetable garden develop over time.