3 Secrets for a Great Kids' Vegie Garden

I just had a conversation with a dear friend who works in the local elementary school and the subject of kids' gardens came up.  She asked me for input. Here it is:

Kids Gardening is high up in the pantheon of domestic arts....master this, and you will certainly qualify to be in Martha Stewart's top tier...

The 3 secrets for success are: it should not be too demanding, it should offer fairly quick results and require a minimum of maintenance....

So how to achieve this in a garden in the short few months before school is out? Go to kidsgardening.org and then, as they say for Carnegie Hall, practice, practice, practice, or rather, plan, plan, plan.

1. First, the site has to have full sun for over 6 hours a day, be relatively level and have soil deep enough to sustain plant roots and facilitate adequate drainage (about 16  inches deep at least). No 6" to bedrock or placed atop asphalt...

2. Second, the soil has to be thoroughly prepared beforehand - not by the kids, but by adults. Why? Because it is the quality of the soil that decides the success of your garden. Little kids cannot be expected to amend and prepare the soil in the correct manner...

The soil prep. stage has to be where most kids' gardens go astray.

The grown-ups must work the soil to get the ground ready for the enthusiasm of children with trowels and a bunch of seeds.  This is no easy task! The soil has to be friable ( I love that word) and fertile. Woodland soil is not suitable nor is sandy soil...organic amendments will be needed (worm composting, anybody?)

3. Third, the arrangements for watering and weeding have to be addressed beforehand. Kids will lose interest after a while (summer sports are calling) and someone has to do it consistently...

If those three considerations are fulfilled then the kids' garden will be a great success! If not, it may become a disappointing exercise....

Vegies for a kids garden should be hardy, fun to look at and mature quickly before school is out in June...wow!  what can we plant?
One idea is to choose varieties in unusual colors, shapes and sizes:

"Easter egg" radish Ovals in shades of purple, lavender, pink, rose, scarlet, white. 25 days. Fast and easy to grow, radishes are best in cool weather.

Carrot Thumbelina
Round, golfball  gourmet carrots can be harvested after 60 days!

Ideal for containers or gardens with poor soils. Sweet taste and small cores make thumbelina great for salads, stews, snacks or hors d'oeuvres.

Red Saladbowl - Oakleaf Lettuce 

Radiant burgundy, deeply lobed, delicate oak-like leaves form a rosette. Red Saladbowl matures early, holds its mild, nonbitter salad quality for a long time, and is slow to bolt.  seed with organic pelleting for fast and easy germination.

Potato - All Blue
Skin is purple and the flesh is blue.  A wonderfully flavorful potato with meaty flesh.  It is not a quick grower but the fun is in harvesting it in late summer...one great way to grow potatoes - fill a tire with soil and plant the seed potato within this tire...add another one atop it as potato seedlngs emerge and grow about 8  inches and cover them with soil ..do it again with a third tire as they grow toward the light...

Swiss Chard 'Bright Lights' Mix

This chard seed mix has stems in yellow, gold, pink and crimson.  They're best harvested young for salads. Ready to harvest in 60 days.

And what about flowers?
Plant spring pansies for color and plant or better yet plant

Nasturtium Alaska Mix

These colorful and edible flowers tolerate poor soils and heat or cold. They grow on compact plants with attractive variegated foliage. Flowers and tender young leaves add color and a peppery zip to salads.  Big seeds are ideal for kids' gardens.

I hope this gets everyone starting to think about planting out those vegies...I got these photos from Burpee's Seeds. This well known company is a great on-line seed source - but the time is nigh...the best seeds go quickly.....


  1. Gardens were really somewhat called paradised speciallyy if it is blooming with beautiful flowers.

  2. hello hydroponics! I wrote a book about hydroponics back in the early 70's after living on an organic farm in Hawaii with 3 commercial hydroponic tomato greenhouses (the 2 don't seem to go together do they?) - one of the first commercial set ups in the nation.....I came back to NYC and told everyone there it was the rooftop solution to our vegie needs...hence my work in that.....


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