Note: This article is presented in partnership with Renee’s Garden, The Garden to Table Seed Company. The Happy Hive has received product in exchange for writing this article, including items to give away to our fans. We only accept sponsorship from companies we know and trust, so you can trust that our recommendations are based on our own positive experiences.
One of the things that helps our kids to feel more invested in our vegetable garden is the selection of veggies that can be picked and eaten right on the spot. This is how they grew to love certain veggies – like cherry tomatoes and peas. These options also keep them happy when harvest season is in full swing and we need them to be patient while we pick.
As you’re thinking about what to include in your garden and what seedlings to start now, consider a selection of snacking plants – you can intersperse them among your garden, plant them in a specific section called the “snacking garden,” or even grow them in containers on your back porch.
Just don’t count on everything from those plants coming back to the kitchen.
Here are five of our favorite snacking veggies, with links to some varieties we recommend:
Peas – peas are one of the earliest veggies you can start outside, and snap peas are a favorite for eating and cooking, but shelling peas create even more fun and engagement in the garden. Kids can learn how to break the end, tear them open at the sides, and eat the peas from inside. Consider Sabre Shelling Peas or Sugar Daddy Snap Peas. For a container garden or a back deck snack, consider Little Crunch Container Snap Peas.
Cherry Tomatoes – when we assign our kids to collect the cherry tomatoes we usually walk over to find them playing the “two for me, one for the bucket” game (if they even still have the bucket with them). Look for sweet varieties that aren’t too huge so that kids can pop them in their mouth more easily. Your kids will certainly not complain if you plant Garden Candy Tricolor Cherry Tomatoes!
Pole Beans – have your kids build a bean tower or teepee with sticks then plant green beans all around it and you’ll have not only a fun snacking veggie but a hideout for their adventures and secret picnics! Mix it up by planting few colors and varieties of beans. Renee’s Garden sells a great Tri-Color Mix that comes with green, yellow, and purple tomatoes; or try the heirloom pole bean package that comes with Rattlesnake and Purple Pole beans.
Cucumbers – cucumbers aren’t necessarily thought of as something you’d pick from the vine and eat, but believe me my four year-old didn’t get that message. She’ll bite into it just like an apple and chomp away. Why not embrace the idea and plant some small cucumbers that are fresh and crisp, like Persian Baby Green Finger Cucumbers? You can even plant cucumbers on your deck in a container with something like the Bush Slicer Container Cucumber which is a dwarf bush that grows very quickly.
Carrots – its pretty cool to watch a kid dig root veggies out of the ground and be surprised each time by the size, shape, or color or what they find. Brush off the dirt and eat it right away for an incredibly sweet carrot nothing like anything you would get at the grocery story. Try a fast growing smallish carrot variety like the Rotild Snacking Carrot. You could also try a fun mix of colors to increase the joy of the “discovery” moment; check out Circus Circus tricolor carrots from Renee’s Garden – how could that not be fun?
What would you add to this list? Do you have a favorite “eat on the spot” veggie?