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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

seedlings

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

safety

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

  

  

  

  

  

snail

white cabbage butterfly eggs

slug

white cabbage butterfly

aphids

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

larva

ladybug

ladybug eating aphids

earthworms

bee

lizard


praying mantis

lacewing

larva

green lacewing

green lacewing eggs

assassin

bug

ground

beetle

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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    • MelloKnitty LM profile image

      MelloKnitty LM 4 years ago

      Thanks for a really lovely lens, I've included a link to you in my article about vegan easter ideas!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I really enjoyed your ideas here. Great job!

    • suepogson profile image

      suepogson 4 years ago

      This is the best lens EVER - Hey - I don't have to lesson plan my students' farm project because you just did it for me! Thanks!

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 4 years ago

      A new blessing on this lovely lens and may you have a wonderful, successful and happy 2013. Hugs

    • GardenIdeasHub LM profile image

      GardenIdeasHub LM 5 years ago

      I really enjoyed your article about kid's vegetable garden and I did pick up some good tips.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      awesome lens

    • profile image

      CristianStan 5 years ago

      Teaching kids to start their own vegetable garden is something that a parent must consider so they would realize the importance of vegetables for our health, for our diet. I hope most kids will engage themselves in vegetable planting activity.

    • Mickie Gee profile image

      Mickie Goad 5 years ago

      Excellent ideas for teaching children about gardening.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Thanks for the great lens. Lots of helpful information.

    • profile image

      Annamadagan 5 years ago

      Great lens! We have a square foot garden with tomatoes, mint, cucumbers, broccoli, peppers, and more. It isn't the fanciest, but the veggies are pretty yummy! Great lens...blessed by a Squid Angel!

    • Jimmy Gavin profile image

      Jimmy Gavin 5 years ago

      Great ideas, my grandkids are gonna love this

    • Rachel Field profile image

      Rachel Field 5 years ago

      Awesome lens, can't wait to grow veg with my little one :)

    • Rural Farming profile image

      Rural Farming 5 years ago

      This is a really great lens and very detailed, gets me motivated to create a new one today. Thanks!

    • profile image

      seedplanter 5 years ago

      I read a quote recently about miracles and it said if you want to show a child a miracle, help them plant a garden. I agree! This is a wonderful lens - thanks so much for the time and effort you put into it.

    • eccles1 profile image

      eccles1 5 years ago

      What a nice lens I see why you won a purple star

    • randomthings lm profile image

      randomthings lm 5 years ago

      This is so clever. i LOVE the different layouts for a garden. It never occurred to me that one could deviate from the "normal" plant pattern. You could do a whole book out of this!!! Amazing.

    • sunny saib profile image

      sunny saib 5 years ago

      cool lens.. thanks for sharing .. :)

    • profile image

      gradientcat 5 years ago

      My kids started some pumpkins inside, we have to find a spot to plant them outside now that it is warmer. Great lens.

    • biminibahamas profile image

      biminibahamas 5 years ago

      What a fun lens! I wish I had started growing veggies when I was a kid ... I have a lot of catching up to do.

    • profile image

      sandi_x 5 years ago

      Nice lens. Kids need to be more in the nature.

    • fitnessjunkie8 profile image

      fitnessjunkie8 5 years ago

      Homeschool mom here and I love this lens!

    • CCTVwebmaster profile image

      CCTVwebmaster 5 years ago

      Great lens! Thank you!

    • profile image

      DeepikaBhardwaj 5 years ago

      wow great ideas here. thanx

    • profile image

      jessicahoward 5 years ago

      this lens is amazing and kids are going to love this idea of growing plants with their creative, growing and learning mind.....even its fun for them to make animals out of vegeatables...........thanks for sharing..

    • Anthony Altorenna profile image

      Anthony Altorenna 5 years ago from Connecticut

      My grandfather gave me a small corner of his garden when I was young, and this experience led to a life-long interest in gardening. Thank you, Grand Pop!

    • moanaparker lm profile image

      moanaparker lm 5 years ago

      Pretty natural and lot of fun here....

    • moanaparker lm profile image

      moanaparker lm 5 years ago

      Pretty natural thing to do...

    • moanaparker lm profile image

      moanaparker lm 5 years ago

      Pretty natural thing to do...

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Awesome lens, I wish I lived in a climate where I could grow all this stuff.

    • peggygallyot profile image

      peggygallyot 5 years ago

      I am teaching my grandson to plant. He loves watering the trees.

    • microfarmproject profile image

      microfarmproject 5 years ago

      Fantastic lens! Great information and very well written. Time to get out in the garden with the kids...

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 5 years ago from Colorado

      I love that you are encouraging the engagement of children in healthy activities. I'm hoping to get more schools involved in aquaponic gardening. There are so many powerful learning opportunities presented by immersing kids in eco-friendly projects. Congrats on your feature. Beautifully presented!

    • profile image

      pawpaw911 5 years ago

      Great idea. My grandson who is 2, is already learning about our garden.

    • alex89 lm profile image

      alex89 lm 5 years ago

      great lens, unfortunately I live in an apartment so I am confined to pots, and I also seem to kill plants more easily that grow them, but I keep on trying! Hopefully some of your tips will help me (after all, if a child can do it, I should be able to!)

    • profile image

      purpleslug 5 years ago

      Fun! Thanks!

    • VeseliDan profile image

      VeseliDan 5 years ago

      Childern usually enjoy gardening. You gave me a lot of great ideas about making toys out of vegetables. *blessed*

    • steph-naylor profile image

      steph-naylor 5 years ago

      Great Lens! Thanks ever so much! Im definitely going to recommend your Lens to my friends!

    • pcgamehardware profile image

      pcgamehardware 5 years ago

      Kid's will love this lens.. I know, I'm the biggest kid of all and I love it...

      Thanks for sharing... :)

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 5 years ago

      That is so cool. Making toys out of vegetables. Thank you for publishing this wonderful lens.

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 5 years ago from USA

      You did a great job with this. What exactly was the challenge?

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      What an amazing lens and what a great way to get kids involved outdoors, teach them and have fun, all at the same time. Maybe this will get them to like veggies!

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 5 years ago from Southampton, UK

      Excellent work, I think you covered everything. It's always good for kids to learn something like gardening, and they might even enjoy their vegetables as well. Good Luck in the Jenga challenge.

    • Missmerfaery444 profile image

      Missmerfaery444 5 years ago

      Superb guide to a kids' vegetable garden! My toddler loves helping in the garden and is so proud of the flower we planted together. We've just started growing some seeds in pots (both herbs and flowers) and the veggie growing will probably begin in earnest next year!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Well you certainly left no garden soil unturned here and you know I was arrested and had to look at that garden tipi for a while. Great tips for all ages and good to get kids pointed in the right direction with gardening as fun to be had for a lifetime of delicious and nutritious eating. An excellent response to your Virtual Jenga challenge!

    • MerandaJade profile image

      MerandaJade 5 years ago

      Vegetable gardens are great activities for kids. It's great for teaching them responsibility, how to get a job done, and reaping the rewards of their efforts. Great lens!

    • CherylsArt profile image

      Cheryl Paton 5 years ago from West Virginia

      It's great to get kids engaged in growing vegetables. Great tips here!

    • Nanciajohnson profile image

      Nancy Johnson 5 years ago from Mesa, Arizona

      What a wonderful lens for us "kids" of any age! Well deserving of the trophy!

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 5 years ago

      You've carried out this super project superbly. Thanks for all the time you gave to the planning.

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 5 years ago

      Great lens and wonderful ideas and inspiration. Featured on Blessed by Skiesgreen 2012-2. Hugs

    • profile image

      ohcaroline 5 years ago

      Wonderfully educational even for us big kids!

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 5 years ago from Canada

      We had a vegetable garden when the boys were young. They loved it.

    • Steph Tietjen profile image

      Stephanie Tietjen 5 years ago from Albuquerque, New Mexico

      You've really thought of everything, scarecrows, labeling. A wonderful lens! Our little garden had giant zucchini, too and was edged with marigold and zinnias. Tomatoes were a hit. too.

    • ozylizzy profile image

      ozylizzy 5 years ago

      My children liked the challenge of growing the BIGGEST zucchini they could.

    • KateHonebrink profile image

      KateHonebrink 5 years ago

      As I grew up on a farm, we had a very large garden which provided a great deal of food during the growing season and what we didn't use, we preserved, canned and froze for use during the winter months. It was a lot of work, but we really ate well all the time!

    • profile image

      mumsgather 5 years ago

      I love how you labelled your vegetables. We're currently growing spring onions and broccoli at home.

    • MartieG profile image

      MartieG aka 'survivoryea' 5 years ago from Jersey Shore

      Some great ideas to get the children interested in growing their own vegetables-nicely done ~blessed~

    • yourselfempowered profile image

      Odille Rault 5 years ago from Gloucester

      What a fabulous job you've done on this! I'm so glad you accepted my challenge - I knew you'd create a great lens, but this is even better than I expected! :)

    • profile image

      SquidooLibris 5 years ago

      Lots of fun ideas for getting children interested in gardening.