There are definitely things I want to do differently this year - most notably, I want to grow three sisters gardens with the kids' help. They're a great illustration of mutually beneficial plantings and illustrate so many concepts of permaculture and gardening - it's a shame to not let them in on it. Plus since you're dealing with corn, beans, and squashes - the seeds are huge and easy to plant for little fingers.
If you're unfamiliar - the concept is simple - the garden is circular and usually about 8 feet in diameter. I'm looking at doing at least two of them. You prepare the soil in the early spring - manure and compost are the usual suspects. Then in late spring, you plant early corn in the center of the circle, wait until it's almost a foot tall and then plant some late pole beans that will climb up the corn. Then about a week after the beans start to sprout, you plant the rest of the circle with a winter squash planting of some sort - whatever you choose.
- The squash crowds out weeds and helps the soil retain water, and since both beans and corn are very thirsty - that's important.
- The beans are nitrogen fixers and corn is a VERY nitrogen hungry plant.
- The corn provides a trellis for the beans without shading them out.
- All three plants put all sorts of nutrients back into the soil.
Here's a great informative article about the process.