How to get kids excited about gardening

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More plants to get kids hooked on gardening

Plants kids WHoneysuckle

One visit to the honeysuckle tepee at Adkins Arboretum and kids will be sold on growing their own sweet-smelling plant that attracts hummingbirds and butterflies.

“Unusual planting methods are appealing to kids,” Houghton says. “Training vines around a tepee base makes a great hideout.”

She also says vines can be trained over a chicken-wire frame to form a tunnel.
Plant honeysuckle in early spring, in full sun or partial sun.

Cherry tomatoes

Cherry tomatoes are a favorite in the LaRosa family, simply because the kids love to pluck them right off the plant and pop them into their mouths.

The beginning of May is a good time to plant cherry tomatoes, although they won’t be ready to eat until June or July, LaRosa says. Tomatoes need plenty of sun, and only need to be watered when the soil seems dry. Cherry tomatoes are also great plants for container gardens, she says. Just remember plants in containers need more water than those in the ground.

“If you give kids an edible plant like a cherry tomato, they can watch it grow. It forms tomatoes. Then they ripen. Then they eat. They develop an understanding of how they grow,” says Nikki Phipps, author of “Growing up Green: Teaching Kids to Garden Naturally While Having Fun.”

Herbs

Cilantro and basil are staples in the LaRosa household. Fresh cilantro is perfect for homemade salsa, and Isabel LaRosa loves to top tomatoes with basil and mozzarella cheese.

Herbs are easy to grow and can be cultivated in containers or small pots, LaRosa says. Though they need sun, herbs should be shaded during the hottest part of the day.

Leafy greens

Planting greens is a perfect way to encourage kids to eat their vegetables, La Rosa says. There is something satisfying about pulling lettuce leaves and serving them for dinner as a salad, she explains.

Leafy greens can be planted in early spring and are ready to eat fairly quickly.

“If it looks like lettuce, it’s ready,” she says. “I just uproot it leaf by leaf.”

By the time the weather is hot, spinach and lettuce are usually done for the season. Kale, however, will last through the summer.

By Kristy MacKaben

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