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Do you have kids who could learn a lot by growing their own vegetables? Have them grow a vegetable garden! Samara Kamenecka of Tiny Fry wrote this wonderful guest post on how to grow a vegetable garden with kids. Enjoy!
Parents as Teachers
As a parent, you are your child’s very first teacher. As your child grows, it’s your role to impart wisdom so eventually your little one will know how to navigate the big, wide world. In other words, it’s up to you to pass along the things that matter.
For example, parents know how important it is to eat well and exercise. We understand the value of family bonding. And these days, we definitely encourage time spent outdoors in the fresh air.
But how do we get our kids to appreciate all of these things as well?
Parents as Examples
Children learn by example.
Think about it: when your baby sees you put on shoes, she’ll mimic your actions and try like heck to put her own shoe on her own little foot. It comes down to the fact that she wants to do the same thing you’re doing.
What would happen if your child saw you digging in the dirt, planting seeds, tending to the seeds, and then harvesting and eating whatever has grown? Trust us, she’d be curious about what you were doing and eager to get involved!
Gardens as Teachers
Gardens are wonderful teachers, too. The most obvious lesson to learn from a garden is that we can eat what we grow. Kids also learn about:
- Responsibility: plants need to be taken care of regularly in order to thrive
- Sustainability: our planet needs to be taken care of as well
- Patience: it takes time for vegetable to grow from seed
- Ecology: kids get schooled on where food comes from
- Diversity: certain foods grow better in some areas than in others, and flourish at different times of year
There are no set rules on how to plan a garden. In fact, designing a garden, especially a spacious outdoor one, is a way for your child to express her artistic side!
Although the vegetables will be the main focus, there are other elements she should feel free to introduce into the space:
- Wind chimes
- Bird bath
- Bird feeder
- Stepping stones
- Water fountain
- Table and chairs
What to Plant
The key to having a positive gardening experience is to choose “no-fail” seeds that are simple to plant and a cinch to take care of. You’ll also want to pick varieties that will be fun to watch grow, and even more fun to eat!
Here are three vegetables to get you started:
- Peas: Sugar snap peas have it all. They’re easy to plant (the bigger seeds are easy for little hands), as they grow they can wind up a trellis, they flower, and you can eat them right off of the vine! What’s more, peas will continue to grow all summer long.
- Radishes: Radishes grow quickly (in about 25 days) and don’t need that much attention. Since these are a small vegetable, you could try these in a container garden if you don’t have dirt outside you can use. Probably the most fun part of growing radishes is pulling them out of the ground to reveal their bright red color.
Of course, radishes are known for their spicy flavor, so count on an interesting reaction after your little one’s first bite!
- Squash: Growing larger vegetables is magic to a child. Winter squash, for example, has giant leaves on a thick, twisty vine and a pumpkin can grow to be quite large and imposing. While you can’t eat the pumpkin right off of the vine, watching it change size, color and shape is thoroughly entertaining.
A Place to Grow
While each and every garden is unique, gardeners everywhere will agree that if your child grows it, she’s more likely to eat (and enjoy!) it. For that reason alone, it’s worth starting your own vegetable patch.
But in the bigger picture, a personal garden is where your child can cultivate other essential elements, like confidence, pride, and patience. It’s a place to gain new skills, make mistakes and learn from them. And it’s a perfect spot to bond with family, friends and nature.
Samara Kamenecka is a nature-loving mom of 2 based in Madrid who trades city life for the Spanish countryside as often as possible. You can find her blogging about everything from pregnancy gear to parenting at Tiny Fry.
Have you tried to grow a vegetable garden with kids? Write down your thoughts in the comments box below.