A Vegetable Garden for Kids?

Kids love growing vegetables. But how do you get started, what are easy vegetables to work with, and how do you keep them excited? Tips and tricks.
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Kids love a vegetable garden, especially their own. At least ... if it all going well.

Because if you think about it, you can run into some questions, like: 
  • How do you set up a garden in a way that kids can grow themselves?
  • Is there such a thing as too young to start?
  • Which vegetables are kid-proof?
  • How do you teach them what to do?
  • And of course, how do you keep it fun (for them and for you)? 
On this page, I'll share with you all my tips and tricks for a super fun vegetable garden for kids.

A vegetable garden: Is that really something for kids?

Yes, kids can really get into it. I liked it when I was young. But when things didn't work out, I stopped: too complicated, too many weeds, too much work and too little result.

A Planty Garden is different. It's just the fun parts, without all the hassle. There's not much that can go wrong, so kids stay engaged. And they reap the benefits :-). 

When their greens and flowers grow fast, taste good, and look amazing, kids are sold forever. 
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Kids working in their own square patches
When a kid has their own garden and takes care of it themselves, make a big impact. They
  • become enthusiastic
  • start playing outside more
  • gain self-confidence 
  • can concentrate better 
  • develop an understanding of nature 
  • and become more aware of the environment
I'm not making this up :-).  Lots of research shows that gardening at a young age has positive effects. I also hear from parents regularly who say this too. 

Another big bonus: kids eat more vegetables. Which makes sense, because they want to taste what they've grown themselves:
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Home-grown radishes. Who wouldn't want to try 'em?
The more you taste and try your own produce, the more you like it.

But some kids don't like vegetables

So, that can be a thing. But it's different with your own garden.  

Heidi emailed me about a birthday party she had for her son. Seven 9-year-olds all tried the vegetables in her son's planter box. All of them! "Even the notoriously picky eaters. Enthusiasm was simply contagious." 

This is just one story, but you get the idea. Seeing something growing brings out the curiosity, even in the pickiest kids. 

How do you get kids excited?

No sweat. If you start a Planty Garden yourself, your kids will soon want to join in. Because what's more fun than doing something together with your (grand)parents?
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Sowing together
And you get to experience your kid having fun. What's better than that? 

To them, the plants come up like magic. They're excited about the critters too: the butterflies, bees, and worms. 

Even the snails and caterpillars are fun. Okay, okay... until they eat the plants. Then they're suddenly a lot less popular.

Give them their own raised bed

What's more fun than having a garden all of your own? 

Start small with an MM-Mini or an MM-Airbak, or go for a raised bed. As long as they can easily reach every plant, the sky's the limit.
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Is gardening too hard for kids?

Not if you do it right from the start.

There is some learning involved. But with our system, growing vegetables is childsplay. Kids aged 8 and up can do a lot by themselves.

Just look at Sven. He's been a real Planty Gardener for five years now. It all started with a talk at school about tomatoes. He even has his own Youtube channel about the Planty Garden, the Outdoor Buddies (Buiten Buddies).
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Sven and his sister have been at it for years

How do you teach kids to grow vegetables?

They learn best by doing. 

When they're little, they do it together with you. But ages 8 and up can do a lot on their own. Especially with these tools:

The free Planty Gardening App

Kids love the Planty app and can work with it really easily. They learn exactly how to sow, care for, and harvest all their vegetables. The app walks them through each step.

You can download the free Planty Gardening app from Google Play or the App Store: 

The big Planty Garden children's book

Kids discover - together with Roos and Seb - the tried and tested way we garden.

It's only available in Dutch right now, so if your kids want to learn a new language... ;-)
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Villa Achterwerk Films

Yep, one more thing just for the Dutch speakers among us:

In 2011 the Dutch public broadcaster VPRO made four videos for Villa Achterwerk. In them, a teenage me ;-) shows how to build, sow and care for a vegetable garden.

These short films are great for kids:

All videos from Villa Achterwerk

What's a good age to start?

With help from the app, kids around 7 or 8 can have their own raised bed and do a lot independently.

At age 10, they can do even more themselves, and 12+ can do everything independently.

Help out a little now and then

Of course, you have to help them a little. Somebody's got to put together the planters and order the MM-Mix. 

And sometimes they'll need help caring for the plants. Really young kids sometimes forget to water or thin out the plants. A heatwave, unexpected night frost, hungry birds, or a family of snails can also cause disappointment.

Help them with loving reminders, comforting words, and tasting the harvest: even that half-eaten radish ;-).

If there's a temporary lapse in interest, you might need to step in. But that's what you're a parent for, right? And there's a positive side-effect: you get to have all their fun in the garden.

Which plants are good for starting out?

So, easy, fast-growing vegetables are: radishes, lettuce and bok choi.

But it's also important that the garden looks nice. You want different heights, colors, and shapes so that it's not just nice to eat, but nice to look at. 

Flowers give it that little extra something. You'll find a few (edible) flower options in the shop. 
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In a nutshell

  • The Planty Gardening system lets kids grow vegetables independently 
  • Give smaller kids a smaller planter so they can reach everything easily
  • Use easy and fast-growing veggies
  • Grow together, but let your child do as much as possible on their own
  • Help them remember and occasionally take over.
Good luck!
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