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Kid's Vegetable Garden

Updated on August 29, 2017

Kids' Vegetable Gardens

Vegetable gardening is not just for adults. Kids are naturally curious about the world around them and love watching plants grow and change. They get a lot of fun and satisfaction from planning, creating and keeping their own vegetable gardens. The bonus with a vegetable garden is that the children will be able to eat what they have grown. Growing food themselves may even encourage reluctant eaters to eat their greens or to try something new.

boy holding a bunch of carrots

© Copyright woodleywonderworks and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons License.

Many children are spending too much time indoors in front of a screen - computer, television, or game machine. Introducing them to the fun and challenges of gardening is one way to get them outside and active.

Growing vegetables will require care, attention and patience, but you don't need a lot of space or equipment for your kids to grow their own. You can grow refreshing mint in a pot inside near a sunny window, or tomatoes in a hanging pot on your balcony. But if you have a larger space for a garden, let your imagination run wild. I have included a few ideas to get those creative juices flowing.

Planning a Kid's Vegetable Garden

the basics

which vegetables to grow

kids' vegetable garden themes

garden decorations

growing vegetables in pots

Planning a Kid's Vegetable Garden - the Basics

Planning a Kid's Vegetable Garden
Planning a Kid's Vegetable Garden

© Copyright Leeks 'N' Bounds and licensed for reuse under

this Creative Commons License.

The main things to keep in mind when planning your garden are the amount of sun the position gets, the distance from a water source, and ensuring that water does not pool in the area after rain. I like to make raised garden beds so I don't really mind what the condition of the soil is. No dig raised beds also make it easier to weed and water your garden. For small children, I would recommend not making the garden beds any wider than 2 feet, or 3 feet if you can get to both sides of the bed. The child should be able to reach the whole garden for planting, weeding, watering, and harvesting without treading in the garden bed. And make sure you make the paths wide enough for your child to wheel his wheelbarrow.

Children tend to be attracted to pretty gardens so don't be afraid to mix some flowers into your vegetable garden. Some flowers make excellent companion plants for your vegetables (eg marigolds and tomatoes) and they will attract the bees which are needed to fertilize your fruiting vegetables, such as tomatoes and pumpkins. And some plants, such as sunflowers, are grown for their seeds.

Your child will get the most out of his gardening experience if he is involved in the planning. He will have a lot of fun reading through the current catalogs choosing the vegetables he wants to try (with some guidance from you).

Which Vegetables to Grow?

which vegetable to grow in a kids' garden
which vegetable to grow in a kids' garden

© Copyright woodleywonderworks and licensed for reuse under

this Creative Commons License.

When children are just starting out to grow their own vegetables, it may be a good idea to plant vegetables which will mature quickly so that the children don't lose interest. This is particularly true for young children. The actual time taken for a vegetable to reach maturity will depend on your climate, soil condition and the variety of vegetable you are growing.

Quick maturing vegetables for children:

  • radishes
  • leaf lettuce
  • spinach
  • mustard
  • bok choy / pak choy
  • sugar snap peas
  • green onions
  • some varieties of beans
  • cucumber (pickling)
  • zucchini

Slow maturing vegetables to teach children patience:

  • carrots
  • peanuts
  • pumpkins
  • potatoes
  • sweet potatoes
  • brown onions
  • broccoli
  • watermelon
  • celery
  • leeks
  • asparagus

Vegetables for shady areas:

If the only area you have for growing your vegetables does not get much sun (say 3-4 hours of sun per day), you could try growing green onions or leafy vegetables such as leaf lettuce, cress, mustard greens, spinach, Swiss chard, and kale.

If your area gets 4-6 hours of sun a day, you could try growing beans, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, radishes, or peas.

If you get less sun or would like to try growing some different vegetables, you could always try growing indoors using a grow light.

Easy vegetables to grow

We want our children to have a positive experience when growing their own vegetables so please help me to make a list of the easiest vegetables to grow by voting for one that you think is virtually fool-proof.

Which is the easiest vegetable to grow?

See results

Some unusual vegetables to grow

Your child might be fascinated with these vegetables of different colors. He might turn his nose up at white cauliflower, but be eager to try orange cauliflower which looks like it has the cheese sauce grown inside. This year I grew some of the cute yellow pear mini tomatoes and they were prolific bearers and very easy to grow. I also grew some of the vegetable spaghetti / spaghetti squash. It is so much fun. After you cook it, you just scrape the flesh out with a fork and it looks just like spaghetti! It's also a bit tasteless just like spaghetti. ;-)

Would you or your children be game to try growing some of these different vegetables?

kids' butterfly shaped garden
kids' butterfly shaped garden

Kids' Vegetable Garden Themes and Ideas

Don't get bogged down with the "right" way to layout a vegetable garden. Straight rows of vegetables may appeal to you, but they will probably be quite boring for a child. You might like to consider some of the following themes or ideas.

  • special shaped garden eg a circle, a heart, a butterfly etc. The fun butterfly-shaped garden on the right contains tomatoes, radishes, lettuces, cucumbers, marigolds and nasturtiums.
  • butterfly garden plan created with
  • this online vegetable garden planning tool
  • .
  • pizza garden

vegetable archway
vegetable archway

  • bean or cucumber archway as the entrance into the garden.
  • tepee, cave, Sleeping Beauty's palace, or other hideout structures garden - use trellises or tent poles to create structures for vegetables like peas, beans, or squash plants to climb on.
  • sunflower house
  • © Copyright
  • Evelyn Simak
  • and licensed for reuse under this
  • Creative Commons License
  • .
  • alphabet vegetable garden
  • fairy garden - include some dainty flowers and some fairy statues, logs or rocks for them to sit on, or places for fairies to live.

kids' hopscotch garden
kids' hopscotch garden

  • hopscotch garden: The hopscotch garden plan on the right contains a path surrounded by herbs - thyme, mint, oregano, and feverfew - to produce a wonderful fragrance if they are jumped upon.
  • giant garden - plant giant vegetable varieties and some climbing bean plants for Jack to climb too
  • tomato tunnel
  • maze garden
  • dinosaur garden - add some dinosaur footprint stepping stones to the garden or hide some dinosaurs amongst the vegetables

hopscotch garden plan created with this online vegetable garden planning tool.

olympics in the garden
olympics in the garden

Olympics in the vegetable garden (Bill Boaden) / CC BY-SA 2.0

More Kids' Vegetable Garden Decorations and Accessories

  • include a frog pond - using appropriate safety measures
  • include a sundial
  • include a birdbath
  • include decorations through the year eg hearts in February for Valentine's Day, pot of gold in March for St Patrick's Day. See holiday decorating year 'round for photos of lots more ideas
  • include a fountain

Growing Vegetables in Pots

Growing Vegetables in Pots
Growing Vegetables in Pots

© Copyright Chris Radcliff and licensed for reuse under

this Creative Commons License.

Don't despair if you don't have the space for a full-sized garden bed. If you have a a small courtyard or balcony, or even just a sunny window ledge, you will be able to test out your green thumb and be rewarded with something to eat. It is fun to use some unusual containers to plant your veggies in - a teapot, an old toy, a rainboot, an old milk container.

Some vegetables which grow well in pots:

  • tomatoes
  • radishes
  • lettuce
  • Swiss chard
  • carrots
  • bush beans
  • herbs

Planting Children's Vegetable Gardens

planting seeds


plants for free

plant labels

Planting Seeds
Planting Seeds

Planting Seeds

It takes a little longer to grow vegetables from seed, because you have to allow time for the seed to germinate. But it is cheaper than buying seedlings and is more educational and more rewarding for the child to know that he has cared from his vegetable right from the beginning.

You can plant seeds directly into the pot or ground where you want them to grow. You don't need special starter pots. But you can start seeds in seed-raising mix in small pots, or even recycled items such as egg cartons, toilet paper rolls, newspaper pots, plastic trays. The first three are biodegradable so you don't need to take the seedling out of the pot. Just plant the seedling, pot and all, into the soil.

© Copyright traaf and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons License.

Benefits of planting seeds in a small pot before transplanting them to their final growing position:

  • you wont have empty space from seeds not coming up
  • you can transplant the strongest seedlings
  • easier to start in a greenhouse or indoors
  • easier to care for since they will be closer together
  • easier to protect against pests

Disadvantages of growing seedlings in small pots before transplanting:

  • more work to transplant later
  • some plants, like carrots don't like their roots disturbed by transplanting

starting vegetables for free
starting vegetables for free

Plants for Free (or Almost Free)

You don't need to keep buying all your seeds once you started growing your own vegetables. Some plants will grow very easily from seeds that you collect yourself. But you can also use plants which you buy from the shop. Many of these will be hybrids which means that a seed may produce unexpected results. I must confess that I have only really tried and had good results with pumpkin and tomato. In fact these grow so well, I often get them growing from my compost. I have also grown peanuts (these need a long growing season) from raw (not roasted) peanuts.

© Copyright holycalamity and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons License.

But you can grow vegetables from more than just seeds. Green onions and leeks will regrow if they have some roots and you leave some of the white on the bottom. You may have seen old potatoes growing little sprouts from their "eyes". Commercial growers only use tubers which are disease free, but in my own backyard garden, I use these sprouted potatoes, or even just a section of potato with the eye on it. Another vegetable which you may have seen sprouting is the sweet potato. This can also be grown from these sprouting sections.

Labels and Markers for your Vegetables

vegetable plant labels
vegetable plant labels

Photo credit: gonnafly (me)

When you plant your seeds or seedlings, it is important to label them so that you don't forget what you have planted in each pot or spot in the ground. I usually use popsicle sticks and write the names of the vegetable (and the date on which I planted it) on it in pencil. But you can be more creative and paint rocks with pictures to use as labels or even paint the pot. A wooden clothes peg also makes a good label which can be clipped onto the side of the pot (see my labels above - I used permanent markers to decorate and write on the pegs).

Paint your own vegetable labels on scraps of recycled wood






Looking After your Vegetable Garden


working in the garden

watering the veggies

pest control

beneficial garden creatures

Safety for Kids in the Garden

There can be hazards for children in the garden which a responsible adult will be aware of and take precautions to keep out of reach of young children:

  1. garden tools with sharp points or blades
  2. garden chemicals (such as pesticides and weed control sprays)
  3. water features
  4. nasty critters that bite and sting
  5. power tools
  6. poisonous plants
  7. broken fences, walls etc

Working in the Garden - Gardening Tools for Kids

You will need to teach your child how to work safely in the garden. Garden gloves are essential, especially when weeding, to protect hands from any nasty critters or prickles which may be hiding in the garden bed. Kid-sized tools will also be the right size for preventing injury when digging, planting, spreading soil or mulch. Hand tools are very useful for finer control. If you have to choose between long-handled tools and hand tools, I would choose the hand tools because they will "fit" your child for more years. A child-sized wheelbarrow, though not essential, will help your child feel very important as they transport seedlings or bags of potting mix around the garden.

Watering the Vegetables

Watering the Vegetables
Watering the Vegetables

© Copyright jaygooby

and licensed for reuse under the CC BY 2.0 License.

Children will be motivated to water their vegetables if they have their own watering can. Choose a fun watering can which will not be too heavy for your child to hold when it is full of water.

Pest Control In the Vegetable Garden - Recognize pests in the garden - click pictures to enlarge







white cabbage butterfly eggs


white cabbage butterfly


fruit fly with evil red eyes!

Getting Rid Of Garden Pests
Getting Rid Of Garden Pests

Get Rid Of Garden Pests

Pest control can be fun for kids, although they may lose interest after a while. Here are some fun ways to deter those pesky critters.

  • Fill a water pistol (or squirt bottle) with biodegradable detergent and water and squirt those pesky pests right off the veggies.
  • Chase cabbage white butterflies with a net or badminton racket
  • Make a slug and snail trap from beer in a jar
  • Try companion planting
  • © Copyright
  • Michael Bentley
  • and licensed for reuse under this
  • Creative Commons License
  • .
  • Make a scarecrow to scare off the birds from eating your strawberries




ladybug eating aphids




praying mantis



green lacewing

green lacewing eggs





curated content from Flickr

(Creative commons suitable

for commercial use Jun 2012)

This page was created for the May 2012 Virtual Jenga Challenge.

Many thanks to Lifeboost for the great challenge!


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