I have lots of fond memories of gardening as a kid –plenty of carrots and radishes (and weeds if I’m honest!). Here at Ollie HQ we’ve been digging around for fun, easy growing activities you can do with your kids![1]

And we know… children are impatient, so it might seem a bit nutty to get them gardening. But the reward you’ll get from your children’s wonder at what growth comes from a tiny seed, with just a little love and water, is well worth it! And their wonder lasts – right into the kitchen and eating! It’s great for picky eaters – they learn how to grow, cook and discover their own food super-powers![2]

1. No Soil, Just Add Water (Super Easy – 10 min)

Perfect for impatient children (and adults too!). Results in a week! The good news is there are lots of vegetable seeds that are super easy to grow with little work and great rewards.

3 Items:  Small clear jar or Ziploc bag, paper towel, some beans such as lima or kidney beans

Beans like kidney and lima beans grow quickly and don’t need a garden. Put some moist paper towel in the bottom of a small clear jar or a plastic sandwich bag – this will mean you can see it happening your own mini ‘greenhouse’. Add about 4 beans (soak the beans overnight beforehand). Put in a warm, dry, sunny place like a window ledge – or even tape the bag to a window – and in about 3-7 days watch as the magic begins[3].

2. Tangy Tomatoes: (Harvest in 6-8 weeks)

Tomatoes will give your kids energy-boosting super-powers! A great small project for limited space. Plant them after the frost (gardening fact: tomatoes need a minimum night air temperature of 55 degrees Fahrenheit/13 Celsius).

4 Items:  Small container, soil, tomato seeds or sprouts – then a growing larger pot, stick and string.

Buy some tomato seeds or even easier, some sprouted small plants. This is a good chance for kids to get their hands muddy. Let them dig a little hole and put the seedling in and pat the earth around it.

Then it’s simply water and sun! As the seedlings grow, support them with a stick or cane. Let your kids take ownership – they might want to name it, water it and take photos to show its growth! This is something they can be proud of.

And all this garden fun has a health benefit too – children are more likely to eat fruit and vegetables if they’ve had a hand in growing it.[4]

Count down to your harvest festival – in 6-8 weeks you can harvest your first tomatoes!

Get a recipe ready for your harvest and allow kids to pick and wash them for cooking. We love making homemade pizza (recipe below) with our tomato harvests! What will you make?

3. Flower Power:  (Sprouts in 7-10 days, harvest in 2-4 months)

Sunflowers are a great example of a seed that can surpass the height of your child! You can teach your kids how some plants grow big and strong – just like them.

4 Items: small container, soil, sunflower seeds – later a larger growing pot.

Start with a small container, about plastic cup size and fill with soil. Get your child involved by helping to make a hole for the seed, drop it in and cover it up – and enjoy the muddy fingers!

Put it in a warm spot with lots of light that kids can see. Have them water or spray it regularly (moist not soaking) and watch for the sprout in 1-2 weeks![5] Let your kids measure its growth, take pictures and record it.

When it’s big enough, transfer to a larger pot outside.

Harvest!!  Best of all, when the sunflower head starts to go brown, you can dry and toast the seeds in the oven – or feed the birds.  Simply dry the head until the seeds come loose and let your kids rub the seeds off. Don’t forget to save seeds for next year’s sunflower crop.

Top Tip: As an activity – take weekly photos and make a gardener’s picture book. We want to see some muddy hands and green shoots to win our signed Ollie: The Boy Who Became What He Ate storybook.

Simple Pizza Recipe:

Chop 4 tomatoes up finely, put them in a pot and let them simmer.

Then add flavor with minced garlic clove, finely chopped small onion, 1 tsp of basil and oregano and pepper to taste. You could also put these ingredients in a blender.

Get the kids to help prepare. They can put cooled sauce on a bagel or ready-made pizza dough, or add toppings like green peppers, mushrooms and cheese. With a hand in making it, they’ll be more excited about eating their pizza. Bake until crispy in oven and enjoy!

Not only is cooking with kids heaps of fun, but it is also proven that when they are involved in the cooking, they eat more as a result[6]. And even better, they make healthier food choices too.[7]

For an easy dough recipe, check out Pizza with Pizzaz in Ollie’s Favorite Recipes HERE.

I would love to see what you have grown, or cooked from what you grew! Please share photos of your Spring planting activities with Ollie Club on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, using #ollieclub, and March and April’s best photo will win an Ollie cookbook!

Making every meal an adventure.

Messy fun! Sheena x




[1] [Evaluation of the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program]


[3] [A Lesson Plan: Growing Plants with Preschoolers]

[4]  [Children Eat More Fruits And Vegetables If They Are Homegrown]

[5]  [Gardening with Preschoolers: Germinating Bean Seeds]

[6]  [If a kid helps cook it, is he or she more likely to eat it?]

[7]  [Kids who cook are hungrier for healthy food choices]