Any outside space is the ultimate prepared environment, without any effort at all it provides a wealth of learning opportunities in just about every plane of development and to suit nearly every interest. Here’s a quick guide on how to get started on the veg patch and how to get your toddler involved too!
As always prepare your environment! I fully expected our first attempt at seed planting with our 18 month old to be a disaster, soil would surely go where no soil had ever gone before! Ideally I would have done this outside but this is Ireland and as usually it was raining!
I laid everything out while Alfie napped and even put down some plastic sheeting to speed the clean up. As is so often the case my fears were unfounded, Alfie concentrated so hard on getting the soil into the compartments and had soon filled up an entire tray!
Best Vegetables To Grow With A Toddler
When sowing seeds with toddlers there are a few hours things to consider. Firstly is safety, pick seeds that you know to be non poisonous and never leave a young child unsupervised with seeds. Secondly is your child’s fine motor skills. Some seeds, like carrots, are minuscule and not suitable for very young children.
Lastly it’s worth considering what the end result will look like, opting for plants that germinate quickly, grow large plants or produce flowers and grow above ground where you’re little one can see them are all bonus qualities.
When drawing up this list of the best seeds and plants to grow with toddlers I tried to keep those factors in mind.
Courgette – The seeds from courgettes are a bit boring looking but they are big enough for even young toddlers to be able to handle. Another good point is that it grows very quickly and are almost guaranteed to produce a colossal plant! Courgette leaves are very prickly which together with their silky yellow flowers make them a lovely sensory experience for young gardeners.
Pumpkin – pumpkin seeds are almost identical to Courgette seeds so be careful not to muddle them. Jack Be Little and Patty Pan are two miniature types of pumpkin that grow well in the UK. Small enough fruits for kids to manage and the novelty factor of growing miniatures makes these a great choice for a beginner.
Beetroot – Beetroot comes with knobbly, chunky seeds that will provide a challenge to tiny fingers. Beetroots can be Purple, Orange, White and a fantastic stripped version. There’s a delicious moment of excitement when you unearth a grubby brown lump of a vegetable and dust it off to reveal what kind of root you’ve got!
Onions – if you plant from sets what you’ll be sowing is tiny little onions. You’ll then get to enjoy the awe of your child as they watch their baby onion swell and start to shed it’s flakey skin as it cracks the surface of the earth. If left a little bit too long in the soil or not given enough water onions will bolt and produce the most fantastic flowers. These are great for sensory play; not only do they look insane they have a really strong smell of cooked onions and better yet feel fascinating.
Peas – These seeds are just dried peas, they’re easy enough to pinch and grow quickly into a wonderful tumble of green leaves and bright flowers. For kids there’s nothing more rewarding than ‘sneaking’ a couple of pods fresh from the plant.
Rainbow Chard – normally salad isn’t high on a child’s list of yummy vegetables BUT Rainbow Chard is a riot on the veg patch! The stems come in nearly every colour you can imagine and the leaves are a shiny dark green. Making them very attractive to young nibblers!
Edible flowers – Even as an adult there’s something a little exotic and exciting about eating flowers! Luckily Calendula and Nasturtiums are both very easy to grow and have good chunky seeds for little ones to get their fingers around. Both produce big, impressive blooms that bees will absolutely love!
Seed Tapes and Seed Mats– for experienced growers this is considered cheating but for parents of tiny growers these are fantastic! They are essentially just strips or discs of very thin paper with seeds embedded in them at the correct distance. They’re ideal for growing fiddly seeds that little ones can’t quite manage, carrots being the best example!
Whatever seeds you decide to grow with your child you’ll be glad you made a start, the world is just waiting to welcome your child into its wonders and March is the perfect time to start!