Contrary to popular belief, gardening isn’t just a spring or summer activity. In fact, fall has a wide range of impressive planting benefits! The crisp autumn air is easier on both you and your plants. There are also fewer pests to deal with in the fall and you’ll usually need to water less throughout the season. You might even find bargains at garden centers that are trying to clear their inventory before winter!
There’s no better way to spark creativity, get kids outside, and help them enjoy eating their vegetables than gardening. Mel used to say, “It’s also a wonderful way for children to learn everyday lessons from nature as well as become more self-sufficient.”
If you want kids to love gardening (and veggies), make sure you choose the right plants to start.
Here are some tips for selecting the right veggies to grow with kids:
- Select seeds that are large enough for small hands to handle and plant.
- Look for plants that germinate quickly to keep those little attention spans captured.
- When possible, plant transplants, sets (onions), or bulbs (garlic).
- Find seeds and plants of colorful veggies such as Swiss chard or red kale.
- Don’t forget flowers! They lure beneficial pollinators to the garden and are pretty for kids to look at and pick.
Fortunately, there are plenty of options to choose from that produce abundantly and will help your kids get the most out of their fall gardening experience.
Of course, the best plants for children are the ones they want to grow, so involve them in the selection process when you can. As a parent or teacher, you can nudge them in the right direction by pointing out plants that are fun, easy, and safe to grow.
Easy Plants For Kids To Grow In The Fall
If you’re wondering what to put in your garden this autumn, here are some of our favorite kid-approved, fall-friendly plants!
Pansies & Violas
Why start with flowers? Because they’re pretty and colorful and will catch kids’ attention. With a variety of vibrant colors available, pansies are an excellent choice for kids and lively addition to the fall garden. Pansies perform remarkably well when planted in the fall as the still-warm soil gives their roots time to establish. Kids will love picking little bouquets to keep in a vase by their bedside. Plant pansies four per square
Lettuce is one of the easiest plants to grow. It is quick to sprout from seeds, so it’s great for kids. Plant lettuce four per square.
Unlike some other plants, carrots stay hidden until they’re pulled, making them extra exciting for kids. Not only are they packed with health-promoting nutrients, but your kids will be excited to indulge in the fruits (or vegetables in this case) of their labors! One thing carrots will teach your kids is patience. It can take a couple of weeks for them to sprout. But when they do, it’s a great reward! Plant carrots 16 per square.
Leeks are great for little ones because you can buy transplants that are easy for the kids to plant. As the leeks grow, your kids can mound the soil around the bottoms to keep the bottoms white and sweet. If you want, you can make a “top hat,” which is a 1×1 box to set on top of the square where you’re growing leeks to keep the soil in. Plant leeks nine per square.
Kale isn’t necessarily kids’ best friend, but try growing dinosaur kale, so the kids can pretend they’re dinosaurs when they eat it. (Truthfully, most kids learn to not like something because adults make a big deal out of it.) In zones 8 and above, you can plant seeds into September. In cooler regions, it’s best to start with transplants. Plant kale one per square.
Broccoli is just so fun to watch develop. It is one of those veggies that looks like it does in the store while it’s growing, so kids will immediately recognize it and be interested in it. Start with transplants when growing this veggie. Plant broccoli one per square.
Radishes are super speedy growers. We’re talking harvestable in less than a month! This attribute, plus the wide range of colors they come in, make them an ideal choice for kids who will just love seeing the little egg-shaped veggies pop out of the soil. You can plant radishes 16 per square.
Garlic is easy to plant and grow because you plant the bulbs (or garlic cloves that you use to cook with). Plant cloves 2 inches deep and mulch with 2-4 inches of compost or shredded leaves in cooler regions.
Rainbow Swiss Chard
Rainbow chard is fun because it’s colorful! This beet family member is easiest for most people to grow from transplants, but you can try your hand at planting seeds, too. Plant Swiss chard four per square.
Tips for Square Foot Gardening with Kids
- If possible, site the garden where your kids can see it from their bedroom windows or very close to the house so that you can send them outside to harvest on their own.
- We recommend downsizing your kids’ elevated beds to a smaller box size (2 x 2 or 3 x 3) so they can easily reach the plants from all sides. That way they’ll really feel like the garden is theirs.
- Let them paint the outside of the box in their favorite color! That’s another way to encourage them to take ownership.