Hopefully our first post on getting your garden all set up was a helpful inspiration! We're pretty dedicated gardeners at our place, for a few reasons. It's great for the earth! We really like eating food! And...it's a solid activity for kids that can occupy them for hours in a pretty low-effort way. And we're all about the low-effort maximum payout ratio on kids' activities.
So here's the 5 core veggies we're doing this year and why we chose 'em!
Potatoes (Effort level: Medium)
We almost always go with potatoes because they don't take up a ton of room in the garden, you can make a ton of different things with them, and you can store them for months. We usually do a couple of types of potatoes, one that works in a salad, like fingerlings, and one for roasting or baking, like Yukon Gold. We find it easiest to just pick up seed potatoes from our local garden centres, sometimes Terra, sometimes Garden Gallery. As the potatoes grow, you need to "hill" them. So when you see leaves poking through the dirt, chuck a shovelful of dirt on top. Do that a couple of times until the leaves are too big to cover over. When the plants start to die back at the end of summer, you can dig 'em and eat 'em.
Peas (Effort level: Low)
We grow peas because they're fast and kids just pick them off the plant and eat them. That's the kind of self-sufficiency you want in your kids! Again, these can just be picked up anywhere and planted from seed. There's lots of different varieties you can choose from. We go for a chunkier pea, like a shelling pea from William Dam Seeds, or a sugar snap from West Coast Seeds. Our kids just find these types of peas more fun to pick and eat. The process of getting at the peas inside the shell is an awesome sensory experience, and also a nice way for them to work on their fine-motor skills. Bonus: pea flowers are also really beautiful!
Cherry Tomatoes (Effort level: Medium)
Similar to peas, this is another eat off the plant scenario. The sweetness of cherry tomatoes makes them an easier sell with the kids, and I find we can just eat more of them. You really don't need more than one or two plants or you'll have a massive amount to deal with. They don't store for that long. Tomato plants are a little bit more work because you need to use cages, or some kind of support, and they need quite a bit of water. We grow from seed, and really like wild cherry tomato varieties, but again, picking up decent sized plants from a local garden centre makes things easier. If you want to spend a bit more, you can buy them in a pot with a cage already around them.
Cucumbers (Effort level: Medium)
The main reason we go for cucumbers is that they are super popular with both our kids, and you can use them up fast in a salad. We do English Cucumbers or Telegraph Cucumbers, not Field Cucumbers, but it depends what you're into! Overall cucumbers are a little bit more work because you need to train them, and more space because the plants are pretty big. For us the pay-off is worth it! We're using some old cupboard doors as a frame this year. We'll see how that goes! Not everything you do will work perfectly, and that's totally cool. If you can enjoy the process and keep the kids entertained, it really doesn't matter if not every crop works out.
Cucamelons (Effort level: ????)
This is our wild card! Cucamelons seem super popular this year. I've been looking for seeds for a little while, and jumped on them when I saw them for sale online at E.W. Gaze. I don't know anything about them apart from they are photogenic (SO FREAKING CUTE!) and taste like lime-y cucumbers. They grow like a bush, and there's apparently a shit ton per plant. I'm pretty excited about these guys!
That's it! Let us know how it goes!