Children love to play in the dirt, so it's not a reach for them to think that gardening is playing. Talk to any passionate gardener, and they'll probably agree. Weeding, feeding and deadheading aren't work at all. Start the child off with gardening projects that are virtually no-fail so they're successful right from the beginning.
Keep things a little out of the ordinary by planting miniature varieties. Carrots come no bigger than 3-inches long. Beets may be picked when they're the size of a marble instead of waiting until they're as big as a baseball. Baby squashes aren't just little squashes that haven't grown up, but they are a separate variety. Lettuce may be harvested when the leaves are only 4-inches long.
Let the child help plant, care for and harvest the vegetables. It's great to expand their tastes, but don't plant a vegetable you know they don't like in the hopes they'll eat it if they plant it.
There are vegetables that grow to much bigger sizes than in the grocer's. Corn grows 7- to 8-feet tall. Some watermelons reach nearly 30 pounds. Potatoes grow to a pound each. Artichoke plants almost look like an alien species. Let zucchini keep growing and it will reach the size of a baseball bat. And there are tomatoes that weigh in at a hefty 2 pounds a piece. Select varieties that have "giant," "mighty" or "big" in the name. Start the seeds as early as possible. Getting to a gigantic size takes time. Children can help with planting the seeds. Let the child measure both the size of the plant and the vegetable at regular intervals, say once a week until harvest time.
Learn the ABC's
Preschool and first graders will appreciate this game in the garden. Plant a garden with flowers starting from A to Z. A is for Asters, B is for Bee Balm, C is for Carnation, D is for Delphiniums and so forth.