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If you think your children or grandchildren need to unplug and get outside for a breath of fresh air, encourage them to garden.What kid doesn’t like getting dirty? They can learn all kinds of things, too, like why earthworms are beneficial to the soil and how sunshine makes plants grow.

Health experts suggest getting dirty may actually help kids build stronger immune systems. Gardening also is physical, providing activity for kids who have grown too sedentary playing video games and watching TV.

There’s a sense of wonder than never goes away when you observe something you’ve planted grow and thrive. Kids learn responsibility tending their garden and the value of hard work when weeding and watering. The reward is the thrill that comes from picking and eating a vegetable that they’ve grown.

So, give your kids a patch in the vegetable garden and let them choose some unusual plants to grow. Check out this list of a few unusual and fun veggies they might like to try.

“Bush Hog” cucumber — Kids will love growing these because they resemble hedgehogs. These cute cukes have prickly outsides. Plants are short and compact producing thick, medium cucumbers that are not bitter. Each fruit is 2 to 3 inches long. (Seeds by Design)

“Peppermint Stick” celery — Deep red stems have a peppermint stick effect and bright green leaves. Tender, prolific stalks have real celery flavor. You can also grow this celery in a container on the deck or patio. (Seeds by Design)

“Sweet Valentine” lettuce — The leaves are brilliant red on both sides, and the lower half of each leaf is apple green. It starts out as a head lettuce before forming a loose-leaf romaine; very slow to bolt. The flavor is described as sweet. (Seeds by Design)

“Delizz” strawberry — A wonderfully sweet strawberry that suits containers, hanging baskets and gardens, “Delizz” is a day neutral strawberry. That means you can have berries from June through summer until fall frost. (ABZ Seeds)

“Mashed Potatoes” squash — With a bright white rind and white flesh, this squash is aptly named. It has the consistency of mashed potatoes when baked and fluffed, plus low sugar content. Fruits weigh 1 to 1 ½ pounds. (Harris Seeds/Garden Trends)

“Corvette” pumpkin — Carving pumpkins are fun to grow. This one is a good fit for small gardens with 12 to 15 pound pumpkins produced on semi-bush plants. The fruit is bright orange-gold. (JW Jung Seed Co.)

Information is from the National Garden Bureau.

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Arts/Special Sections Editor

Special Sections Editor for the Courier

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