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.
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.
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.