Spring has finally arrived and the long awaited anticipation of heading outdoors to start gardening has come to an end. All gardeners, both old and young, are currently jump-starting what they hope to be a bountiful, fun and educational garden experience in the seasons to come.
Each year, more children are experiencing the joys of garden for the first time. After all, growing our produce has become is an important part of safely and economically insuring freshly grown food is available to everyone. Schools, community gardens, urban farms play an integral part of having access to fresh, affordable seasonal produce. In many cases, growing food has become a part of the curriculum in many school and educational programs across the country (and the world) and children actually love it! Fresh air and exercise in the form of gardening is a plus, in addition to maintaining the legacy of enjoying and respecting nature for future generations.
Below is a list of vegetable, fruit and herb seed varieties that children of all ages will enjoy planting, watching grow and, ultimately, eating the delicious produce they provide:
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Basil (Lemon ‘Sweet Dani) – Ocimum basilicum – The large and very productive leaves have a delightful and intense lemon flavor.
Beet (Chioggia) – Beta vulgaris – This variety has pale red skin with standout white and red striped rings. They are reminiscent of characters from Dr. Seuss books or a candy-striped lollipop.
Bean (Burpee’s String-less) – Phaseolus vulgaris – This is a standard, snap bush variety. The pods are string-less and 5″ long.
Broccoli (Happy Rich Mini) – Brassica oleracea – One of the easiest broccoli types to grow and produces earlier than others. Slow to bolt and the leaves are edible, too.
Cabbage (Primax) – Brassicca oleracea – A fast-maturing, early season variety, it produces attractive 3-4 inch round heads.
Cantaloupes (Minnesota Midget) – Cucumis melo – The fruit have delicious juicy, sweet orange flesh. The vines for this variety generally do not grow above 3 feet and the fruit 7-9 inches.
Carrot (Little Fingers) – Daucus carota – The stalks produce sweet, tiny carrots that only grow 4″ long and 1″ thick. They can be eaten whole.
Corn (Dakota Black Popcorn) – Zea mays – Very easy to grow; the kernels are dark black and make delicious popcorn.
Cucumber (Mexican Sour Gherkin) – Melothria scabra- Can easily become a favorite! This variety produces miniature grape sized cucumbers that resemble tiny watermelons.
Eggplant (Little Fingers) – Solanum melongena – Compact plants produce dark purple fruits which can be harvested when finger sized.
Ground Cherry (Pineapple) – Physalis peruviana – The vines produce fruit that are encased in a papery husk. The flavor of the fruit is similar pineapple, apricot, vanilla, tropical fruit with a hint of tomato.
Lettuce (Tom Thumb) – Lactuca sativa – This type of lettuce is easy to grow and matures early(bibb/butterhead). The heads are small and lime green. It is also more tolerate of warmer weather than other varieties.
Onions (White Lisbon Bunching) – Allium fistulosum – Generally planted for green onions or scallions, this fast-growing perennial variety has to be grown as a annual in cooler climates.
Pea (Little Marvel) – Pisum sativum – The compact vines of this pea variety produces small green pods that are easy to shell, making them perfect for tiny fingers!
Pepper (Red Mini) – Capsicum annuum – This variety has short, productive plants that produce deep red miniature fruit that typically grow to about 2 inches wide and long.
Radish (Easter Egg) – Raphanus sativus – Round and beautiful, this radish varies in colors ranging from red, purple, and white to pale pink, resembling Easter eggs (hence their name).
Squash (Green Tint Squash) – Cucurbita pepo – This easy-to-grow plant that produces light pale-green scalloped fruit.
Squash (Tennessee Dancing Gourd) – Cucurbita pepo var. ovifera – This variety produces tiny gourds that are bottled shaped with green and white stripes. They are mostly known as a toy spinning toy; but can be used in numerous crafts. When dried the fruit turns tan.
Spinach (Space) – Spinacia oleracea – This fast-growing plant with leaves that are smooth and slightly savor.
Swiss Chard (Five Color Silverbeet) – Beta vulgaris- This leafy vegetable produces beautiful yellow, orange, red, pink and white colored stems.
Tomato (Isis Candy Cherry) – Solanum lycopersicum – This productive variety produces small red marbled fruit that are rich, sweet and fruity.