Grow a Garden With Your Toddler

no backyard? no problem! You can still grow your veggies and eat them, too. Here’s how:

» Think small. Turn a sunny deck, balcony or fire escape into a container garden. Most vegetables need six to eight hours of direct sunlight daily to produce a good harvest.

If your outdoor space is too shady, you can grow herbs (basil, dill, chives, mint and oregano are great bets) or small veggies (such as beets, carrots, lettuce and radishes) on a well-lit windowsill. Or invest in indoor grow lights (about $75 to $100 and up). Instead of plain old pots, use fun containers like a toy dump truck or pretzel barrel—anything about 12 to 18 inches in height will do. Just be sure to drill a hole in the bottom so it drains well.

» Go public. Reserve a small plot for your veggie patch at a community garden. Some of these shared neighborhood gardens charge a fee, but others are free. To find one nearby, click on the state-by-state listing on the American Community Gardening Association’s Web site ( Botanical gardens (including the New York Botanical Garden,; The Brooklyn Botanic Garden,; The National Arboretum in Washington, collections/youth; and the San Antonio Botanical Garden, may offer preschooler programs, some of which let kids care for their very own garden plot.

Sun Valley, Idaho-based writer Stacy Whitman doesn’t have to talk her 21⁄2-year-old son into playing in the garden, but she’s still working on getting him to eat vegetables.