It was lovely seeing my daughter's excitement and that is one of the things I love about planting things with children. It is fun for them to plant and nurture something and watch it grow into something as a result. When you are growing something edible, they will without a doubt be keen to tuck in, even if it a vegetable they may previously not have been keen on. We grew runner beans last summer and the children loved them, having previously not been overly keen on them.
Even if you do not have much of a garden or none at all, there are lots of resources online for finding things to grow on a windowsill, small patio or whatever so don't be put off by a lack of space!
I am not sure if tomatoes are not considered an 'easy' thing to grow, as they require quite a lot of specific care (consistent watering but not over-watering, regularly feeding, ideally pinching out the middle leaves once they get growing considerably, plenty of sun etc). Having said that, if I can grow them, you can too! I am not exactly green-fingered, but enjoy having a go!
Having spoken to friends and relatives who are keen gardeners, along with my own (limited experience) I have listed below a few easy edible things to grow that are well suited for trying out with children:
Herbs: ideal for those without a garden, as you can grow them in small pots on a windowsill. Enjoy using them to make your own pesto (doesn't have to be basil!).
Rocket: we tried this great idea from Daisies and Pie last summer and grew rocket in our used Illy coffee tins. It worked a treat!
Runner beans: you can grow them in a pot, just get a bamboo cane to wind the stems around and secure the growing plant to keep it vertical. The more you pick, the more you get!
Courgettes/zucchini: I've been told these are easy to grow and tend a produce a lot, so get ready with a variety of courgette recipes to use them in! If you leave them, they will turn into marrows.
Cucumbers: we bought some seeds to try growing some this year and bought a small variety that is ideal for pots or grow-bags. You can also buy indoor growing varieties so have a look and see what suits your circumstances best.
Potatoes: we grew some last year in a half empty bag of compost, simply by planting actual potatoes deep down and topping up with compost as the shoots kept emerging and you could equally grow them in a pot. Whilst we didn't get a huge yield, we had enough for dinner for six and they were delicious!
There is a lovely little section on gardening with children in the Leon: Fast Vegetarian cookbook. A couple of their suggestions are really good, such as encouraging your children to 'graze on the plot' to help solidify the connection between growing and eating, and understanding where food comes from. They also advise letting your children have their own patch of soil or collection of pots that they can call their own, I love that idea!
If you have grown any fruit or vegetables in your garden with your children, it would be great to hear about it and any additions to my list above are most welcome.
Disclosure: We were sent a crate containing tomato seeds and the items described here, if we blog our progress Heinz will send us a hamper full of Heinz goodies as a reward.