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.