A Child’s Garden, Part II: What to Grow

Herbdoc again, with more tips on gardens for kids:

If you’re looking for some unusual seeds or plants that will spark your children’s curiosity and enthusiasm, here’s a short list of some that I’ve had great success with:

Eggplant: Pumpkin-on-a-Stick (Solanum aethiopicum)- I’m told this is used as a culinary vegetable in Asia, but we grow it      as   an ornamental.  When the fruit turns orange, remove all the leaves and you’ll have many little “pumpkins-on-a-stick!”

Twinkle Hybrid – harvest 2” eggplants; plant grows about 24” and is spineless.

Tomatoes:  Cherry: Riesentraube – In German the name means “Giant Bunch of Grapes”; it’s very appropriate.

Black Pearl – Tastes like a tomato right off the vine, but if chilled, has a Concord grape flavor.

Peacevine – Tresses of small red tomatoes; high Vitamin C content

Pumpkin Most standard pumpkins will take up too much room so try Baby Bear (5-6” across and 3-4 “ tall) or Jack Be Little (3”x2”)

Squash (winter) – Try Galeux D’ Eysines – salmon colored flesh with wonderful warts!

Lettuce: Green – Two Star; leaf; slow to bolt

Red – Red Sails; leaf; slow to bolt; crisp not bitter

Hungarian Broom Corn (Sorghum bicolor var. technicum) – fills with red seeds at maturity.  Children can make brooms with a few stalks, used them in dried flower arrangements, or leave as forage for the birds.

Sunflowers Most children love sunflowers, but they are too large for a small bed.  Try Sunflower Elf (14-16”)

Beans – These have large seeds that sprout quickly.  A teepee of stakes will allow you to grow the pole type (Scarlet Runner) or try the bush variety, Beananza, which produces for a long time as long as it is regularly picked.

Radishes Fast growers; almost any seed will do, but I like Cherry Belle and Cherry Bomb II hybrids for their color and taste.

Herbs Children love to pinch and smell the fragrance of lemon balm, parsley, basil, anise-hyssop, chives and mint. (Grow the mint in a pot so it doesn’t overwhelm the plot!)  They are also fascinated by texture, so try the soft, fuzzy leaves of lamb’s ears.

Flowers – Try the old-fashioned or unusual types like Mimulus (Monkey Flower), Cottage Red Marigold, Balsam, Cosmos Cosmic Orange or single dahlias.


About dirtynailz

Writer for a daily newspaper, gardener, tree hugger, orchid-grower, photographer, animal lover, hiker, wilderness seeker. Proponent of clover in the lawn and a dog on the bed.
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2 Responses to A Child’s Garden, Part II: What to Grow

  1. Wendy says:

    These are great tips. I’ve been meaning to try peacevine tomatoes. Actually, there is a restaurant in Cranston we used to go to during the college years that had a soup with what we called “pumpkins”. Come to find many years later that they were actually Thai eggplants.


  2. HerbDoc says:

    Thanks! I believe the Thai eggplants look like small green or white golf balls so they are a bit different from pumpkin-on-a-stick. The PeaceVine tomatoes are truly delicious; I bought my seeds from Seeds of Change.
    I haven’t seen them listed in any other catalog.


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