Gardening with my kids is simultaneously wonderful and chaotic. My kids love to get dirty, as they should, and they don’t always follow the exact directions I give them when it comes to planting seeds and watering plants. With finicky plants, gardening with kids means almost certain failure.
Rather than kick my kids out of the garden or chastise them if something doesn’t go exactly as planned, we plant fruits and vegetables that are basically impossible to kill. While that means that my dreams of a summer bounty of delicate heirloom tomatoes won’t be a reality this year, planting a nice easy vine of cherry tomatoes instead is equally rewarding when I know my kids get a sense of satisfaction in growing something from plant to fruit.
Here are my favourite easy-to-grow fruits and vegetables, perfect to plant with kids in the garden each season.
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Heirloom and even beefsteak tomatoes can be notoriously finicky to plant and grow. They need just the right temperature and are susceptible to blight. However, cherry tomatoes are not. They grow on a vine that is easy to trim back, they tolerate all sorts of heat and rain, and they grow fairly quickly. Also, they are easy for little hands to harvest and eat.
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There are all sorts of jokes about what to do with your zucchini abundance since everyone is always shocked at how easily they proliferate. It is definitely true that they are impossible to kill and often produce more zucchini than one family can ever possibly eat. Plant a single zucchini plant, and your children will be thrilled. Just be sure to harvest them when they are about eight or nine inches long or they will quickly become baseball bats.
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Similar to zucchini, this delicious vine-ripened vegetable grows almost like a weed. Once it reaches maturity, it will produce more squash than you ever thought possible. Put the kids in charge of harvesting them each day. They grow so rapidly you’re sure to get a few new ones each week.
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The vines creep, but when they are bursting with tiny pumpkins you hardly care. Growing mini pumpkins is surprisingly easy since they take so little care and help themselves to your garden. They don’t necessarily wait for Halloween to be harvested, however, so prepare the kids that pumpkin decorating may happen earlier than planned once these are planted.
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Despite being small, these peppers are surprisingly resilient. What’s even more fun is how many peppers one simple plant can produce. Once the plant reaches maturity, in just a few weeks after planting, it will produce dozens of fresh peppers over and over. Kids will have so much fun picking them. Then task them with making guacamole for lunch.
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These vine-ripened vegetables can vary in size and are always delicious. The children will adore picking them and will have no trouble caring for them. It just takes water and sun, in any amount you can give it, and the eggplants will grow rapidly and can be harvested easily for your eating pleasure.
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These are so much fun for all ages. A single vine can grow hundreds and hundreds of peas. Put the kids in charge of shelling and eating them right off the plant. So long as a pea vine has a lattice or mesh to cling to, it will grow high and wide for everyone to enjoy.
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There are apples for every climate. While it may require a little patience, apples thrive and grow once the tree takes root. Get the kids a stepladder each fall and let them pick their favourites and make a pie.
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These delicious stone fruits are smaller than peaches and thrive in so many environments. They don’t require crazy-fussy care, and the rewards are amazingly tasty.
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The only things you have to protect strawberries from are your children. These delicious plants will grow wonderful red berry fruit all summer long. The key is waiting until the berries are ripe and harvesting them all at once, not picking them off the second they are ready so you never get a full basket.
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Raspberry bushes grow well in pots or in the ground and are a blast for kids. Plant one out of the way so it can mature into a big plant. The raspberries will start popping up like crazy every summer, and the kids can take their buckets to pick them whenever they want.
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