Saturday, April 28, 2012

Plant a Kid-Friendly Vegetable Garden

Rose Straebel

The best thing about planting a vegetable garden with your kids is that they get to eat what they plant.  Teaching kids how to take a plant from seed or seedling stage to the dinner table is a great way to help them learn where food comes from.  It can also help them discover a lifelong healthy hobby. 

My dad had a small garden in our backyard when I was growing up, and now I am a gardener too.  One of my favorite childhood activities was picking cherry tomatoes off the vine with my dad and popping them directly in my mouth.  This yummy experience has stayed with me throughout my life.

You’ll need a few basics to start a garden such as good gardening soil, a sturdy container or small patch of ground, some seeds or seedlings, a watering can and a few gardening tools.  Starting small is an ideal way to keep gardening with kids fun and easy.  Container gardening using an old sandbox, window box, or flower pot is a good option.  Containers provide plenty of room for a kid-sized harvest.  Allow your kids to choose the container so the garden really feels like their own project.  Choose seeds or seedlings that are low maintenance and have short growing seasons.  Some good options are strawberries, cherry tomatoes, lettuce and radishes.

Kids are natural gardeners because they love to play in the dirt.  Let them have fun with planting the seeds and seedlings.  If you are using a container, be sure to have some extra gardening soil available to replenish the pot.  Play time could lead to having more soil around the container than in it.  If you choose to start the garden in the ground, help kids pick a spot that can accommodate a small fence.  You may want to keep rabbits and squirrels from reaping the harvest. Containers and ground plots will need a spot with lots of sunshine and not too much wind.

Once the seeds are in the ground, a daily routine of watering and checking the plants for new shoots will help stir curiosity and get kids excited about their future crop.  It’s almost a guarantee that you will see a big smile spread across your child’s face when they see the first shoot popping up from the dirt.  Keeping a daily garden journal can be a fun way to track plant growth.  Taking photos of the plants is also good way to help kids show off their gardening adventure.  

Be sure to make gardening fun for kids, not work.  Help with weeding and watering, and encourage your kids by showing them how to plant, grow and harvest.  With a little basic care, a vegetable garden can provide lots of enjoyment, memories and good eating. 

About the author: Rose Straebel is one of the team members at 

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