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Fun stuff to plant for kids

I live in Silicon Valley, so temperatures range from 50 - 80 year round and just built some planter boxes for my kids, which will be a in a pretty sunny area. My kids are 3 and 6, and I'd love to get some advice from others on what kids enjoy growing / picking? Of course, my 3yo has already said he wants to grow those "flowers that you blow", i.e. dandelions!

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  1. Hmm. Radishes are a hit with my nieces/nephews because of the quick germination time. For the wait for it...wait for it...pay off, sugar pumpkins are neat too.

    1. My 4yo likes the golf-ball shaped carrots and cherry tomatoes that are the 'wrong' color (last year we grew chocolate brown ones). Basically anything we can find that is a twist on the normal.

      1. Green beans and pea pods are fun for their "hide and seek" aspect. Cherry tomatoes for both their sweet taste and they are kid-size. Lettuce is quick to germinate and you can do the "cut and come again" method for a while.

        1. our vegetable hating granddaughter likes sugar snap peas fresh off the vine. Green beans are easy to pick. Cherry tomatoes are popular with everyone.

          You might plant something to attract butterflies. Many birds like seed pods in late summer/early fall. Put a bird bath near by and an overturned clay pot to attract toads.

          1 Reply
          1. re: dfrostnh

            Haven't been able to have an "in-ground" garden for several years... too many critters thinking it was a free salad bar!?! Snow peas grow easily in a LARGE flower pot... with 3-4 bamboo stakes to make a tripod for them to crawld up. My grandmother always said you HAD to plant peas on St. Patty's day...tho don't think she ever had snow peas?? They don't do well once weather gets HOT here in NJ.

            Bush-type green beans also work well in large pots and are really quick to grow. Another item that pretty much gets eaten before it even makes it into the house.

          2. Tall sunflowers because, well, they are tall!
            Nasturtiums, because the flowers are edible!
            Pole beans, so Jack can climb them!
            Zucchini because they get so big!(but are prickly)

            1. If you have space, make a tipi out of 8 or 10 foot poles, and plant pole beans around it. A playhouse and beans to pick!! I bought purple pole beans this year--easy to find when you are picking, and they are MAGIC!! They turn green when you cook them. :)

              If you don't have that kind of space, the purple beans also come in a bush variety. I like them raw in salads or with dip, when they are very young. So pretty.

              1. Watermelon and pumpkins are two of my sons favorites.

                1. Watermelon radishes, purple cauliflower and romanesco broccoli, rainbow carrots and round carrots, red and purple green beans.

                  1. 2nd (3rd?) the purple or yellow string beans - easy to spot the beans amongst the foliage.

                    My 4-year-old likes peas off the vine, too. He also eats chives and garlic chives right out of the garden, so he's a little odd :-) Anything they can nibble on while they are out in the garden is fun.

                    Alpine strawberries would probably produce year-round in your area, or most of it. Those are great for nibbling while you're playing outside.

                    1. As other posters have mentioned: Strawberries, are a great idea, also sunflowers grow really big and are fun for kids because you can teach them how to collect sunflower seeds and eat them. I think zucchini is another good one, because the flower is pretty and edible and watching the flower change into a squash will encourage them to eat their greens, even if it's in the form of... zucchini bread! :)

                      1. Another vote for sugar snap peas!

                        I like fall the best for gardening, so be sure to check back whe the fall rains start.

                        1. Our niece and nephew are just a year younger than each of your kids. Their favorites include "dwarf" varieties of sunflowers, the butterfly garden, edible flowers, kale (for smoothies), strawberries and mint. But we are in the PNW, so somewhat cooler.
                          The various colorful cherry tomatoes, and mini bell peppers might be fun. Also, purple or yellow beans?

                          1. Thanks all for the great ideas! We put down some corn, watermelon, sunflowers and strawberries this weekend (along with some tulips and callalillies for mom). Hoping to add a few more over the next couple weeks, likely beans / peas given the # of recs for that. Thanks again!

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: FattyDumplin

                              I hope they enjoy the experience! A note about sunflowers and corn...be careful what you plant near/under it as those plants can create a lot of shade.

                              1. re: FattyDumplin

                                Also I've heard you need to plant enough corn for them to mingle or something, or they won't do what they are supposed to.

                                Also, tulip bulbs usually go in in the fall, and regular tulips may not get enough chill here. But I put in Tulipa Saxitalis, and they come back every year just like they do back east. I plant my sugar snaps in the fall too, because it gets hot fast where I am. You could do that too, but 80 is pretty cool compared to the triple digits I sometimes get by May. Peas stop producing when it gets hot.

                              2. Another vote for cherry/grape tomatoes. Fun, easy, and a bonus if you want to interest a "I Hate Tomatoes" kiddo to them. They can even be decorative when grown in containers.

                                The other childhood garden veggie I remember fondly is the zucchini. I can hear the groans already...yeah you need some space and you'll have to figure out what to do with your crop, but as I kid I recall being impressed with the bounty. Zucchini bread anyone?

                                1. Many good suggestions already made. Purple potatoes , and white ones, are fun because of the treasure hunt aspect when they are pulled from the ground.

                                  Also, the small cucumbers used to make pickles. The children can help to make quick refrigerator pickles with a little salt and apple cider vinegar - ready to eat in 30 minutes. Another type of cucumber is the lemon cucumber. They are yellow but taste like a regular cucumber.