Are your kids ready to grow their own food? Wondering how to start them off right? Planning a vegetable garden for kids is a fun, educational activity!
Does your child want to grow their own vegetables just like mom and dad?
Are you wondering how to get started planning a vegetable garden for kids?
It’s a fun activity you can do together with your kid. And it is an opportunity for your kid to learn:
- spelling vegetable names
- drawing shapes
- picking the right colours
- researching information
- following instructions
- planning for the future
- companion planting
Depending on the age of your child, they may need help and guidance with some of the above.
So pick a time when your kid is in good spirits and where you can be fully present (yes, put away your phone!) and enjoy the creative process of planning a vegetable garden for kids.
Let’s get started and go through the process step-by-step as I did with my 5 year old daughter for her second year of growing her own food.
Supplies for planning a vegetable garden for kids
With my daughter, we decided to keep the planning simple and unplugged (no iPad or computer). So these are the supplies we used:
- pad of graph paper
- colouring pencils, crayons or markers
- gardening guide/seed catalogue
Not shown in the photo is the planting chart we got with our Seeding Square (affiliate link). You’ll see that in some the photos below.
Draw out the space for the vegetable garden
First step after gathering the supplies, is to draw out a diagram showing the size and shape of the bed.
I used the graph lines to get a decent looking rectangle. The size is 9″x6″ as that fit nicely on the page and matches the proportion of my daughter’s 2’x3′ planter box.
I picked the nearest line on the graph paper as well to keep things square.
Once I determined where the lines would go, my daughter helped drawing out the lines with the ruler as a guide.
We also divided up the box into 6 squares, each 12 inches by 12 inches.
And here is the final version. We noted down where the greenhouse is on the north side of the planter box (in this photo on the right). This will come in handy later.
Make a list of what to grow
Now we start getting into the fun part!
My daughter got to pick what vegetables she wants to grow this year.
We basically went through the seed catalogue and used the planting charts as a guide.
My daughter picked out her favourites with some prompting from me! Then she wrote down the names. She’s just learning to write so she needed a bit of help with some of the letters. I pointed out the word and she painstakingly copied it.
And this is what she came up with:
Might be a bit hard to read so I’ll repeat the list here:
Sounds like a lot for a small 2’x3′ planter box, but we’ll use a trellis to grow the beans and peas vertically. And we did follow the recommendations for the most part for square foot gardening as provided with the planting guide.
Determining plant spacing
With this ambitious plan, we need to figure out how close to space plants. Our seed catalogue is a good resource. Here for instance is the growing info for cucumbers.
And sometimes you can also find info on the individual variety descriptions in the seed catalogue or the individual packets of seeds.
But again the Seeding Square Planting Guide also helped and we mainly followed its advice.
Draw in the vegetables
Now the really fun part, drawing in the vegetables. This is the creative part of planning a vegetable garden for kids.
Here my daughter is starting with peas. Of course in green.
Start with the plants that can be grown vertically on a trellis. In our case peas and beans. The peas and beans look way too close together on the plan but we’re aiming for succession planting where the beans will follow the peas in late spring.
And keep in mind any trellised plants should be on the north side of the planter box or planting area. This avoids having the trellised plants cast shade on the other shorter plants that need full sun.
Now on to the larger plants. Broccoli takes up a whole square foot of space. This is my daughter’s favourite vegetable and she insisted on having one plant even though in a small garden it takes up a lot of space!
In fact one square may be a bit tight, but we’ll give it a try and see how it works out.
And a tomato and pepper plants also take up a full square, so we drew those next.
Now fill in the smaller plants where you are growing more than one per square foot. Here is the work in progress with just one more square to fill.
And some final embellishments on the corn. My daughter insisted that she needed to draw the green husks on each ear representing each plant!
Completed plan and next steps
So here is the completed plan.
I labelled everything just in case we forget in a month or two what the drawings represent. Keep in mind that the left-hand side is north. And the top is against our garage so really most of the sun is going to come from the right (south) and bottom (west).
Very colourful! I added a few basil plants to act as companion plants for the tomato plant.
And I’m also now wondering if maybe the lettuce should be behind the broccoli to get some shade in the heat of the summer so it doesn’t bolt.
No worries, we can always change the planting locations.
My daughter decided to hang this in her room until we start planting. She is so excited!
However we need to now plan for what comes next.
- Weed her bed and remove any existing plants
- Top it off with some fresh compost and add a slow release organic fertilizer
- Seed peas and lettuce in the greenhouse and then transplant out when they are big enough
- Seed broccoli in the greenhouse, maybe three seeds and then pick the best one to transplant
- Seed tomato and pepper same as we did the broccoli
- Direct-seed the carrots and corn once the weather warms up a bit more
- Seed the cucamelon in the greenhouse and transplant when big enough
And then of course my daughter will have to keep everything watered and we’ll have to add some “stinky” fish and seaweed fertilizer as stuff grows.
And she’ll need to remember to harvest things as they are ready. That part my daughter likely won’t forget!
If you want to see how she did in her first year, check out Kids Gardening: My Daughter’s First Year Growing Her Own Food
And I also have a free guide that you can download and ensure you have everything in place to help your kid have a successful year of gardening! It’s part of the Homegrown Resources Library:
Planning a vegetable garden for kids is a great way for your child to learn some valuable skills. And they end up with a colourful, easy to follow plan that will maximize the space they have and give them a good variety of vegetables.
Remember to set aside a time when your child is willing and excited about their garden and when you can focus 100% of your attention on guiding them through this fun activity!
If you enjoyed this article, have something to add or have any questions, please leave a comment below.
Wishing you all the best!
Tranquil Urban Homestead, Victoria, BC