For us grownups yard work is too often just a chore. But for children, your home landscape is a potential place of discovery. And with these projects you needn’t be afraid of unattractive results that require a, “well, the kids helped” explanation. Children love to watch things grow, however what they like most of all is to watch things grow quickly. Here are two spectacularly speedy producers that can fill your children with the pride of horticultural accomplishment, fill your yard with attractive greenery and maybe even your table with some tasty and nutritious bounty. Both these are edible annuals that don’t require too much tending and that can be grown as decorative plants. They’re ideal when you want a quick project for your children and you don’t have space or time to commit to a full vegetable garden.
Pumpkins and other squash:
A single pumpkin seed from a large pumpkin variety (the sort you’d use for a jack-o-lantern rather than a culinary variety) will quickly yield huge foliage on a thick, branching vine that can trail a distance of up to twenty five feet. For best results you should sow seeds in late spring in well drained garden soil , but if you’ve already missed spring, go ahead and plant in the summer. Your plants may not bear fruit before frost, but you can still enjoy the fantastic plant. Plant two of these to better ensure that flowers will be pollinated and fruit will set.
Your pumpkin (or squash) plant will cover a large amount of ground which is useful if you’ve got a bit of unattractive bare dirt. Or if you have a large bed of ivy, it’s fun to plant the pumpkin near the edge and allow the vine to trail right over the top of the ivy. The effect is strikingly dramatic.
As your pumpkin plant blooms, pick a few of the blossoms for stuffed squash blossom recipes. If you’re sure you want to eat your pumpkins, go ahead and choose a sugar pumpkin variety. The foliage will be a little smaller, but still beautiful Other squash are also amazingly easy to grow. Each variety will have its own growth habit and space requirements.
Beans, all varieties including peas:
Any sort of bean makes a good cover for an existing fence, trellis or pergola and won’t look out of place even in the most elegant yard. Some, such as Scarlet Runner, are best known for their flowers. (Please note, Sweet Peas are not edible, despite their mouth watering name). Choose a variety you suspect your children or grandchildren might like to eat. Sow according to package direction after all danger of frost has passed. If your growing season is long, stagger planting times so that you’ll have blooms and beans all season long.
Filling in the spaces:
If you’ve got a little extra room and your children have a little extra energy and enthusiasm, lettuces and carrots are sure kid pleasers for their fast germination time and satisfyingly short period to wait until harvest.
With either pumpkins, squash, beans, lettuce or carrots, you’ll enjoy lush foliage all summer long, your kids just might eat more vegetable and maybe you’ll even have a few caterpillars and butterflies.