Many teachers will want to use their garden to teach how vegetables grow and meet the
interests of children who are fascinated by cooking and tasting new foods. The kitchen
garden fulfills this purpose. To get maximum use out of this area, you can plant sev-
eral times throughout the growing season. For instance, spring and fall plantings
can include cool-weather plants such as lettuce, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, and
radishes. These plants not only can be planted early or late in the season, but also
develop rapidly from seed to edible vegetables, satisfying the shorter attention spans
of some children.
Plants that can be grown during the hot summer, and that you will certainly want to
include, are tomatoes, green bell and banana peppers, green beans, and cucumbers. Also try
eggplant, potatoes, melons, carrots, and onions. We try to include some vegetables that have
edible roots, some that have edible leaves, and some that have edible fruit to expose the chil-
dren to a variety of plant parts as food. We also like to include produce that can be eaten fresh
directly out of the garden, as well as vegetables that need to be cooked.
If you have space, you might want to include a small patch of strawberries. These ripen
early in the season and the plump, sweet berries will delight most children. However, strawber-
ries do tend to take over the garden, so you will need to periodically pull up the vines to
protect the rest of the garden.
Since some of these plants require significant space to grow, you won’t be able to plant as
closely as you can in some of the other gardens. This can result in more weeds, if you’re not
careful. Heavily mulch this area to control the weeds, as well as to help the plants retain mois-
ture. Materials that work well for this include wood chips, newspaper, and straw.
Planning Your Garden 41