What better way to get your kid to eat her veggies than to have her plant and harvest them herself? So here’s my little guy helping me plant some verdant seedlings the other day. We created a raised bed which has kept the bunnies away the past two summers, and turned and amended the soil with organic compost. The soil looks dark and rich, and the bed gets a full day of sunshine plus daily watering. Weeds grow mightily in these conditions, but kids love plucking them, so put that to work for yourself. Give them a watering can and small spade and then go put your feet up on a lounge chair for a spell.
So far we planted a large array of herbs (parsley, basil, thyme, cilantro, mint, oregano and rosemary), romaine, escarole and kale for leafy greens, broccoli and brussels sprouts, red peppers, cherry tomatoes, green beans and cucumbers. Try to get “bush” beans and cukes when possible; otherwise, the vines grow all over the place. Also, keep stakes or plant supports and ties on hand to hold unwieldy plants upright once they start bearing fruit. It’s a good idea to poke the little white label spike that comes with the seedling into the soil near the plant itself; helps you keep track of what’s where until the plants mature.
As for planting directly from seed… I’ve done this in past years as well, but have found it to be time-intensive to the point where I ended up with an overgrown mess that I didn’t want to deal with. The seeds are minuscule and have to be spaced carefully otherwise you end up with plants growing upon plants. They require far more attention and time. That said, they’re cheap and the packets are filled with hundreds of potential seedlings, so go for it if you have the time and patience!
Back to the point about getting kids to eat their veggies, though… Kids derive such delight from watching their tiny seedlings grow into full-fledged vegetables that they cannot wait to start harvesting and snacking. There’s no guarantee they’ll love everything they’ve picked, but the thrill of bringing forth one’s food from the soil is not lost on them, and you’ll be setting them up for a lifetime of appreciating the healthiest and most local of foods.