Flowers are blooming up and down your street. Summer is finally here. Green is everywhere. Everywhere, that is, except on your son's dinner plate.

If you're like most parents, getting your kids to clean their rooms is a breeze, compared to getting them to eat their vegetables. Summer or no summer, the answer remains the same – a loud and defiant "No."

Let me let you in on a little secret: The surest way to get your kids to eat vegetables is to help them grow their own. True, a kindergartener may be too young to get out a trowel and dig the perfect pumpkin patch, but they're not too young to pull up a few weeds. And even a preschooler can manage a watering can. A few spills just make it more fun. Once your kids hit mid- elementary school, they're capable of really helping out.

You don't need a huge plot of land to start a garden. Many fruits and vegetables can be grown in containers. Beans, strawberries, and lettuce do particularly well.

Seed companies come up with new varieties for small spaces every year. Even "large" crops like corn can be attempted in a small spot. But for those that want a sure thing, here are a few veggies that thrive in containers:

Cucumbers: Salad Bush, Pickle Bush, Potluck, Spacemaster

Eggplant: Bambino, Dusky, Millionaire, Slim Jim

Green Beans: Blue Lake, Bush Romano, French Dwarf, Tendercrop Stringless

Lettuce: Buttercrunch, Salad Bowl, Red Sails, Tom Thumb (Look for salad mixes!)

Peppers: Take your pick – almost any kind of pepper will do well in a container

Radishes: Cherry Belle, French Breakfast, Scarlet Globe

Tomatoes: Tiny Tim, Tumbling Tom, Small Fry, Pixie, Patio, Sweet 100, Toy Boy

When you're gardening with kids, it's all about the packaging. Remember to pick the most colorful varieties you can find – red lettuces, purple beans, orange peppers. Choose dwarf plants that will yield mini fruits and veggies, the perfect size for little hands. And here's to hoping that "Let them eat cake!" will soon give way to "Let them eat kale!"


Want to know how to plant a child-friendly garden? Click your way to, a wonderful site jam-packed with information on planting plans, projects, and principles.