Growing Food with Kids
Getting kids to enthusiastically eat their greens isn’t always a walk in the park, (let’s face it, it’s hard to make broccoli seem exciting next to a chicken nugget). Luckily, we’ve figured out a great way to pique your children’s interest in fresh vegetables: getting them set up with their very own food garden.
Kids are curious mini-scientists by nature, and they’re sure to get a kick out of the process of creating a garden and watching it develop day by day. Anything that can get kids outdoors, eating healthy, and eager to learn without the use of Wi-Fi or a tablet is good in my books.
Children’s Gardening Activities
Start by helping your child pick out some tools and equipment for their gardening project. A sense of ownership and a little creative control can really motivate kids and encourage them to work independently. When it’s their own special project, they’re inspired to make it the best it can be. Purchasing some trowels, gardening gloves, and decorative planters in their favourite colours is a great way to kick off their first, and hopefully not last, edible gardening endeavour.
If your child is an artsy type, set up some paints and craft supplies so they can decorate their planters. Stick a couple of googly eyes onto a terracotta pot, give it a snappy name, plant some seeds, and watch as Captain Majestic grows a lush head of leafy green hair as he sunbathes on the windowsill.
When you’ve decided on which vegetables your kids would like to try planning, get them to write out and decorate some plant labels, and attach them onto toothpicks to stick into each pot to keep things organized.
Edible Gardening Ideas for Kids
Planting seeds in small cups and letting them sprout on the windowsill until they’re ready to make their way into the yard is a good way to get started earlier in the season with your edible gardening, while also increasing your chances of a successful yield. Each morning at breakfast, your family can check up on their little plants and track their growth. By the time they’re ready to get transplanted into the garden or a bigger pot in the yard, the kids will be brimming with anticipation.
When you plant your seeds, make sure you put two or three in each cup. This way, as they start to sprout, you can pick out the weaker ones and cultivate the strongest one. This can be particularly helpful if you have multiple kids who tend to get competitive, because if one child’s bean plant isn’t growing quite as well as the others, they might get a bit crabby.
When it’s time to transplant your seedlings, choose a designated area of the yard to be their own personal gardening zone. Help them set up their decorated planters on a sunny corner of the patio or assist them in digging up some holes in the garden to place their plants in. Remind them to be gentle when placing their plants into their new home, because if the roots get jostled too much it could cause some damage.
Fruits & Vegetables: Basics and Beginner Projects
Some veggies are a little more low-maintenance and easier to cultivate than others. Here’s a list of viable options for a kid-friendly garden that will produce a sizeable amount of fresh food for your family to enjoy:
Green Beans: These really are the perfect starter vegetable for younger kids, since they grow quite fast. Plus, they don’t take up too much space, so you can grow them in containers or the garden – whatever floats your boat.
Peas: Really any type of pea will work (sweet pea, sugar snap). Peas grow quickly, and who can resist fresh picked peas! You may need to stake your plants, or allow them to grow in a hanging basket.
Tomatoes: Smaller varieties of tomatoes are also pretty quick to develop and the amount of food they produce is pretty impressive. Plus, they can be used in a lot of kid-approved meals, like pizza, spaghetti and nachos. If you end up with more tomatoes than you can manage to eat in time, encourage your child to bag some up and give them to friends and family. Trust me, if they’re anything like mine, they’ll love boasting about how they grew their own food.
Cucumbers: They aren’t too tricky to cultivate, and their mild flavour is a winner among fussy eaters who don’t like the bitterness of some raw veggies. Crack open a tub of dip and enjoy!
Radishes: Another fast grower, but with a zesty flavour that’s got just the right amount of spice for a kid to handle, radishes are a particular favourite among the younger crowd. Something about pulling out a radish from the soil to reveal a bright red clown nose evokes excitement in the most wholesome way.
Strawberries: Nothing beats fresh strawberries on a bowl of ice cream on a hot summer day! Your plants may not produce fruit the first year, but it is definitely worth the wait!
With our world creeping closer and closer to being run by technology and spending time indoors, getting our children interested and engaged with the world outdoors is as important as ever. It’s a great way to make sure they explore, develop, ask questions, and learn with us as we share something so important.
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