Do you want your kids to eat more vegetables?
Lettuce, radishes, green beans, cherry tomatoes–these are your friends. Easy to grow, easy to harvest, easy to eat. You can grow them in containers or in the ground.
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Lettuce grows easily in containers and can transplant from a container to the ground if desired. In a pot that is 8 inches in diameter (an old hanging basket), you can put 4 lettuce seeds or plants. In the ground, space them about 6-8 inches apart. Keep the soil moist all the time until the seeds sprout. Then let the soil become lighter in color, but not too dry. The roots always need to be able to access water.
Lettuce grows new leaves from the center of the plant. You can gently pull off the outer leaves for your salad and the plant keeps growing new center leaves. The plant needs to keep at least 3-4 center leaves for the plant to keep growing.
Baby lettuce is ready in about 45 days, and full-grown lettuce about 55-60 days. Lettuce can be started indoors in March, and outdoors in early to mid-April. Lettuce likes cooler weather, so it is finished by the end of June.
You can grow radishes in the house, in any cup or pot that has a drainage hole in the bottom. Put 4 seeds in a 4” pot (a red solo cup with a hole in the bottom is perfect!), and just barely cover them.
Keep the soil slightly moist. Put the pot in a windowsill or wherever you have the most sun. Seeds will sprout in 2-3 days. Remember, moist soil! In the ground, space the seeds about one inch apart.
Radishes are ready in about 30 days! They push up out of the soil so that you can see the top rounded part of the radish. It’s very exciting to pull it out! The tops are great to chop up into salads or toss into a stir fry as well.
Remember, radishes do not like to move from one area to another, so wherever you plant the seed is where you will harvest. Radishes can be started indoors in March and outdoors in April. Radishes do not like the heat, so April-May-early June and September-October-November are better months for radishes when grown outside.
Super sweet fresh beans from the bush! Beans can be started indoors mid-April and outdoors about May 15. Beans like the soil to be at least 50 degrees, and prefer the soil to be 80! Plant the beans when you are done with the radishes.
Find a bush variety rather than a vine variety. Bean seeds pop up quickly when the soil is a bit warmer. Once you plant them and they start producing, bean plants just keep on producing beans until it gets cold. Full sun is a must!
Beans can be placed 2-3 inches apart. Plant at least 4 bean plants for cross-pollination. You can harvest at nearly any age. Generally, smaller beans are more tender and sweeter. Perfect for snacks for your garden helper!
Just for fun, you can plant yellow or purple or green beans or a combination of them!
Cherry tomato plants have many virtues, including lots of tomatoes, very sweet, and they are ready sooner than the larger tomato plants. When you have kids looking things over, fast and sweet is great!
Most tomato plants do better with some kind of support. As the vines load up with tomatoes, the branches are weighed down. The support keeps the tomatoes off the ground and makes it easier to pick. You can use a tomato cage or stakes (wood or metal). We use stakes and then twine to tie the tomato plant close to the stake. Not too tightly, because the plant keeps on growing.
If you are a veteran gardener, then go ahead and start your seeds. For most beginner gardeners, I recommend buying a young plant or two. You might get a cherry tomato plant for the kids and a large tomato plant for yourself.
Cherry tomatoes are ready in about 60 days, compared to large tomatoes at 80-90 days. They love it hot and a little on the dry side, so full sun for these babies! They typically produce lots of tomatoes at a time, so more than one person can nibble on them.
When kids can pick something right from the garden, they are more inclined to eat it! And eating it while standing in the garden is a magical moment. If the kids eat all the vegetables before they get in the house, that is a great thing! Happy times while gardening.
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