Children's Garden

Redwood City, CA

Hi, new to gardening. In our back yard we have a plot that is about 7 feet by 3 feet and we want to give our 4 year old the experience of gardening. Where should I look to seek resources for having a children's garden? We are just south of San Francisco, mostly sunny in the summertime, but the plot gets only about 5 hours of direct sun a day due to its position and the rest is shade. I was thinking of a mix of flowers and vegetables (well, a few veggies). My daughter says she wants to plant roses.... I don't know about that (though we do have lots of roses elsewhere). I have heard that sunflowers are great for kids, but maybe we won't have enough sun. Anything else you would recommend for kids. I just want to give her the experience of growing plants in a garden. Thanks.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

I'm thinking quick results, easy to plant, something she will eat.
leaf lettuce should grow fine. I like 'green ice'
radishes are really quick, but you have to fertilize.
maybe peas. my kids will pick the pods , shell them and eat them fresh. will need something for them to climb.
onion sets are probably foolproof but she may not want to eat them.
Annual flowers like marigolds and zinnias are easy to grow and will flower all summer.
Unless someone says no, I would try sunflower anyway.

McLean, VA(Zone 6b)

I would plant grape or cherry tomatoes. Kids love picking them to help make a salad. My 3 year old wont eat tomatos yet, but he loves to say that he grew them!

Marigolds are easy, and come in different heights. My 3 year old is growing a 12" variety, while the ten year old choose the tallest that she could find - almost 4 feet!

Also consider strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries - I like the golden raspberries. Kids love to be able to eat something that they grew. You could put the strawberries in a jar, so that you don't use your yard space.

Redwood City, CA

Hey thanks. Those are some great ideas. Yeah, I was thinking of trying sunflowers (even roses) anyway. It's a big plot for a child's garden. I really liked your ideas. Yeah, my daughter won't eat tomatoes, but maybe if she grows them herself. I keep hearing marigolds, I will definitely have to check them out.... and the different berries.

Do you think the shade will create a problem?

Thanks again, and I am open to all suggestions. I figure planting will be next week, after a trip to the nursery (I thought maybe HomeDepot would do it, but I think I should talk to a professional nursery person).

Benton, KY(Zone 7a)

Peas will be great. Just make sure you get the ones that you shell, instead of the flat podded 'snow peas'. I love snow peas, but don't think a child would enjoy them as much as the actual peas. They are a quick growing crop and you'll be able to plant something else in their place later this year....maybe more peas. Depends on how far inland you are and how hot it gets. Peas like cool conditions. Lettuce can be planted in successive sowings too, so a fresh supply is always at hand. There are many colorful lettuces too....(as in those expensive 'baby greens in the upscale restaurants)

Marigolds are easy and colorful, but don't smell 'pretty'....petunias are easy too, and some have a lovely scent. Zinnias grow quiclky from seed, and the seeds are large enough for a child to handle. They attract butterflies too. I'd give sunflowers a try....maybe not the giant ones, but the smaller branched ones with multiple heads. They'll require less sun.

A cherry tomato is a good choice, but you might want to put it in a container in a sunnier location. It will bear in the bed, but will have more fruit if it gets more sun....5 hours is about minimum for a tomato. Strawberries need more sun too, but are quite happy in a container. There are everbearing types that will produce all summer...they just don't produce as many as the day sensitive ones, but for a kid, being able to pick a handful of fresh strawberries every few days might be a thrill.

Depending on how hot you get, Caladium bulbs will work...they are colorful foliage plants and a group of them are quite attractive.

I wouldn't worry about making a fashion statement with this bed...chances are, it will be a patchwork of a very diverse group of plants that a landscaper would run from....but a child's idea of beauty and ours are usually 2 different things...(think of macaroni Mother's Day necklaces)

Taft, TX(Zone 9a)

Oh, you are doing something fun for grandchildren are coming down next weekend and help me garden. They have learned to love it....ages 1,3,6,8,10......The 8 year old just sent me pics of her broccoli growing in the garden. I volunteered at an elementary school years ago when my daughter was teaching. Every single class had raised beds and could grow whatever they wanted (and I could get in seeds)....they even took the veggies and flowers home taking turns as they matured throughout the school year...and different crops, etc. Have fun!!!!!

Lansing, KS(Zone 5b)

Steven~ don't forget a cute little bright painted bench, a cute scarecrow and some fun little garden markers for them as well. ;0)

(Zone 6a)

You could also try annual babys breath, its a fairly quick grower. And don't for get daisies! Every little girl loves them :) Theres also cosmos and they should can take a bit of shade, I've grown them well with only morning/early afternoon sun.


Kwajalein, Marshall Islands(Zone 11)

StevenKarl, so tell, how did it progress? I love the idea that you are sharing the joy of watching things grow with your daughter. Gardening is such a wonderful way of spending time with kids, and teaching them something at the same time. My grandkids have always helped me, and some like some don't, but they all learn and maybe will remember when they get older and want to plant their own gardens. Please post an update??

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