By Kira Hamman
Unfortunately for tomato-worshipping parents, this is not necessarily true.
What kids love is (a) dirt, especially when combined with (b) water. Also (c) tools of any kind, particularly those used in (d) digging. Certain kids love (e) worms and (f) bugs.
And all kids tend to have a pride approaching zealotry in anything they produce themselves.
The combination of these factors makes them highly enthusiastic gardeners, and what they lack in skill they more than make up for in sheer joy.
So — get your kids growing tomatoes!
Here are some ideas to get you started:
1. Let kids grow cherry tomatoes, which surely must have been made for them. Even kids who refuse to eat a slice of tomato on a dinner plate will love popping a Yellow Pear into their mouths out in the garden. Peacevine cherry tomatoes are extremely prolific and have lots vitamin C, in case you’re having trouble getting them to drink their OJ.
2. Empty egg cartons make great kid-friendly flats. Wash them out, poke a drainage hole in the bottom of each compartment, and let your kids start their own tomato seeds. Give them a spray bottle to water with (kids and indoor watering cans are a dangerous mix).
3. Get kids their own gardening tools. This set from Lee Valley is an excellent choice — sturdy, colorful, and inexpensive. This one from Magic Cabin is a little pricier, but it has kid-sized long-handled tools and a great kid-sized wheelbarrow.
4. If you have space, give the kids their own corner of the garden. Make sure it’s a sunny spot where tomatoes will actually grow. Let them make it their own with garden “ornaments” (rocks, sticks, abandoned flowerpots…) and then show them how to plant and care for their seedlings.
5. If you’re short on space, fill a large pot with good soil and make that the garden. Be creative — as long as it’s clean, the pot doesn’t have to have been originally intended for tomatoes. Empty buckets are great, as are certain kinds of toys, like dump trucks or doll cribs. Just make sure to punch some drainage holes in the bottom of whatever you choose.
For safety, make sure kids know they should never eat the leaves or flowers of a tomato plant. But then send them snacking! Even the reluctant tomato-eaters will come around before you know it.