Today I am happy to share a guest post by Kylie, editor at Green & Growing.
Although growing plants require some time and work, there are several types that are great for children to grow with the help of their parents. Not only does growing garden plants teach children responsibility, but they get to enjoy and eat their crop after all of their dedication and hard work!
Tomato plants are a great starter plant for kids. They are hearty and grow just about everywhere. While it may be tempting to buy seeds for tomato plants, if you're just starting out with a garden and are new to gardening, purchasing a small, but healthy tomato plant from a nursery might be the way to go. These are great for kids because tomato plants grow quickly, and the wait time for vegetable production is very short. If you get a plant with small tomatoes already on the wine, within weeks, you child will have ripe tomatoes. Be sure to plant your tomato plant during the warm season (above 75 degree F), plant in full sun, and keep your tomato plant watered daily for best results. Your children can grow most tomato plants in pots as well, as long as the pots are big enough to accommodate your growing plant.
If your child is interested in growing plants from seeds, cucumbers are relatively easy to plant and if properly cared for, they will grow very quickly -- within a week. Children love to watch their seeds pop out of the ground, and the quick turnaround time keeps them interested. Cucumber seeds can be purchased from any nursery or home improvement store and you'll want to pick up a small planter and some potting soil to start your seeds. Have your child lay the seeds on top of potting soil in the planter, and put a very light layer of soil on top of the seeds. Partial shade is best for growing seedlings like cucumbers, and the seedlings need to be lightly watered daily. Soon you'll have plants that your children can transplant to your garden. For best results, your child should transplant the cucumbers when they're 3" tall in full sun and space the plants at least 6" apart. These plants are vines that need room to grow on the ground, so keep that in mind when helping your child prepare the garden.
Strawberry plants are easy to grow and fun for kids because of their small size and the ability to grow these fruits in pots, unlike some fruit trees that take years to produce and require a large yard or farm. If your child is eager for strawberries this year, it's best to buy plants from a nursery instead of planting seeds, since strawberry seeds take several seasons to grow into mature plants. These plants prefer full sun, lots of water, and should be spaced at least 18" apart if you're planting them in a garden. These sweet little fruits are not only fun for kids to grow, but are also delicious and have so many uses -- smoothies, cobblers, strawberry shortcake, juice, and more. Your child will enjoy making delicious recipes all summer long!
While watermelon plants are a little more advanced, they're still a fun choice for kids to grow fruit. These plants love fertilizer, so making your own compost or buying fruit plant fertilizer is a essential. These plants cannot grow to maturity in a planters or bucket, and transplanting will be necessary. You'll want to grow this plant in full sun, keep it fertilized, keep it watered daily, and make sure there is enough space in between each plant since they are vines and grow on the ground. One good tip is to tell your child to cover the vines with soil, as this will encourage extra growth. Watermelon plants take a bit longer to produce a mature fruit than some other fast-growing fruits and vegetables -- approximately 80-90 days if you buy a small plant. These are good plants to teach your child patience and develop skills to care for higher maintenance plants. Starting a compost with your child for your watermelon plants is an added bonus.
Kylie is the editor at Green & Growing. She enjoy the outdoors, especially when she can go on a fun hike or adventure. She likes to focus on the perks green living. She feels it is so important to take care of our earth and hope to spread more awareness as she edits and writes.