Gardening Fun: The 5 Best Vegetables to Grow with Kids
Written by Erica Strauss
Filed under: Home and Garden
The best thing about growing potatoes with kids is the harvesting! Pulling Yukon Golds or Viking Purples out of the ground is exactly like hunting for buried treasure.
There are pirate stories just waiting to be invented when you harvest potatoes. You can grow potatoes from organic market spuds, but I don't recommend it. Potatoes sold at nurseries and through mail order companies are less likely to be infected with various soil diseases that will diminish your final yield. Potatoes like cool weather and generally do very well around Puget Sound.
To grow: While there are almost as many schemes to maximize potato yield as there are gardeners, growing potatoes can be kept quite simple. Drop some seed potatoes about 4" deep in moisture-retentive soil and hill up loose, fluffy compost around the plants a few times through the growing season. Hilling up gives the potato more space in which to grow tubers and keeps the forming tubers underground. (When exposed to sunlight, potatoes turn green, a sign that toxic compounds have formed and it should not be eaten.) If you are growing a short-season potato, like Yukon Gold, you can plant anytime between March and June and expect harvestable potatoes about three months after planting. You'll know the spuds are ready when the foliage dies down naturally.
Invite your kids to dig the area where the potatoes have been grown methodically, ideally with a garden fork. Use any potatoes that are stabbed or cut during harvest right away; others can be cured and kept for several months or more, depending on the variety. One important consideration when growing potatoes with children is the toxicity of the non-tuberous parts of the plant. The leaves, fruit stems, and sprouts of the potato plant are all toxic, and care must be taken to ensure children cannot eat parts of the potato they shouldn't. Be particularly careful to teach children not to eat the fruit, which looks much like a small tomato.
Growing vegetables with children can make both gardening and parenting more rewarding. Start with these easy-to-grow kid-pleasing vegetables to keep everyone happily involved in the garden!
About Erica Strauss:
Professional chef-turned-garden writer Erica Strauss raises kids, chickens, and vegetables on one-third of an acre in suburban Seattle. She writes about edible gardening, seasonal eating, urban homesteading, and keeping a productive home at Northwest Edible Life. Join the NW Edible conversation on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.