Gardening with Kids - Fresh is Best!
Image via Garden Season
Fun in the garden with kids is such a great way to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Fresh fruits and veggies from your own garden are simply THE BEST! You can’t get more local than that. Do you know what’s even better? Kids that help plant the garden become more invested and take care of them, watch the veggies grow and then voilà…they’ll want to eat them! It’s exciting for them to see something they planted, either from seed or a small plant, flourish into beautiful healthy plants they can eat from.
Not a word of a lie, we have a very picky eater in our house, and two years ago she brought home a bean plant from school all proud that this little plant was her creation. This ‘little’ bean plant, after transferring it to a large pot, grew to over 6 feet tall. And…our picky eater ate beans like nobody’s business!
Enjoy gardening with your kids and let them have input, get their hands dirty planting and watering. Fair warning: it gets real dirty! There are so many cute and inexpensive gardening tools made for kids to bring more fun and independence to the experience. Kids gardening gloves are helpful in keeping those squeamish ones a bit cleaner and eeek… away from bugs and worms.
Here’s a cute set available on Amazon
There are several easy growing vegetables that can last you throughout the season and pretty much take off on their own with diligent watering and the proper sun exposure.
- Buy your plants and/or seeds from a gardening store that specializes in growing their own plants. The knowledge they have is invaluable and they can tell you exactly what you need for a successful vegetable, fruit and herb garden.
- Organic plants need organic soil to maintain that integrity. Ask your farm or nursery specifically for organic soils.
- Pot plants in very large potters if you don’t have the space or time to create an in-ground vegetable garden.
- Always learn about what the plant requires, for example, quantity and frequency of watering, direct sun or slight shade. This will ensure you get maximum growth.
- Pantyhose are great for tying and supporting plants. They’re soft and flexible. Purchase cheaper ones at a dollar store. If you don’t like the visual look of them, purchase flexible green gardening tape that will blend in.
Tomatoes – cherry or grape tomatoes are a family favorite because they’re like little delicious candies and they produce an amazing amount from one plant. You may find you’re even giving some away. You’ll find every time someone walks by they’ll pick one and pop it in their mouth.
Cucumbers – the mini variety grows like a weed. Ensure you provide enough space for them to grow upwards and have stakes to tie them to for support when they get heavy.
Peppers – peppers are so versatile so they are always a good choice in a garden. Sometimes we have several different kinds with varying flavors and spiciness. Add them to salads, stews, pastas, sandwiches, omelettes the list goes on.
Lettuce – although these leafy greens grow rapidly, unless you use them they won’t have re-growth or may rot. There are several varieties to choose from. Talk to your nursery to see which type works for your needs.
Strawberries are super fun for little ones and they can pick them as they grow and chomp away. You’ll need some extra room for them to spread out.
Raspberries are easy and grow wild.
Trees may be another project down the road but planting fruit trees means something exciting for you and the kids to look forward to each year.
Herbs to Have on Hand
Herbs – Love, Love, Love to have fresh herbs ALL year but there’s something about going outside and picking them from their stems. So many herbs grow extremely well but others may need more TLC.
Basil is a must! It’s so fresh and aromatic and adds amazing flavor to so many dishes. If you want a culinary twist, there’s lemon basil varietals that add a completely different flavor to dishes.
Thyme is hearty and grows in abundance. Perfect for soups, stews, sauces, rubs and even eggs.
Rosemary is a dream in a garden and the aroma! Mmmm!
Parsley grows extremely well and a great staple herb in kitchens.
Using vegetables and herbs from your own garden is also a great help in getting your kids interested in cooking – taking their creations and turning them into meals for their family is very rewarding. This can even be taken a step further to composting leftovers and learning the full cycle of a backyard food system. Maybe they’ll think twice about the amount of food they toss on the floor or feed to the family pet….
Here’s a look at a super simple, garden fresh salad the whole family can enjoy. It screams fresh, crisp and flavorful! You can create salads like this one with your freshly picked tomatoes and basil. Or create fresh platters for the kids to snack on before dinner. That’s a trick in our house. The kids eat more than their fair share of vegetables of fruit even before their meals are served. Win win!
Photo by Robyn Gleason from SimplyFreshDinners
Foodland Ontario provides seasonal availability charts that can help you plan your choices.
These are only a few suggestions. There are so many choices, depending on your likes and dislikes, your garden could rival a small farm, or you could plant a few pots, it’s up to you. Enjoy the outdoors with your kids, have fun and wait to see their faces when your plants start to produce food – priceless!
Share your planting pics with us and tag #choosechickapea. We love seeing kids smiling faces!