5 Easy Ways to Get Kids Gardening | Outside
Getting kids involved in growing their own food is great for their education and development, and a lot of fun for both of you!
What better way to teach kids where their food comes from and the importance of healthy, local foods than to grow your own vegetables at home?
Having to water, weed, and take care of living things also gives your children a strong sense of personal responsibility.
You can involve your kids in the whole process – start planning your garden early and allow your kids to make gardening choices (with your guidance) so that they feel like owners of the project.
What kind of vegetables do they want to grow and possibly eat? If you are using pots, what size will these plants need? Where should you place them in your garden so that they have the kind of sun or shade conditions they need to thrive? How often should you water them and who will be responsible for making sure they get enough water? How will you know when they are ready to eat?
Perhaps the funniest question, what are you going to cook with the veggies when they’re ready?
There are so many ways to involve your children in the planning and maintenance of the garden, and they will learn a lot in the process. Here are five quick and easy ways for you and your kids to get started with a backyard garden.
1. Potted plants
Building a garden bed takes time and takes up a lot of space. If you’re not ready to take the plunge to a full garden bed, potted plants can work just as well. Many vegetables grow in pots, including tomatoes, beets, leafy greens like chard and kale, hot or sweet peppers, lettuce, onions, and even beans (as long as you have something to climb).
Make sure the pots you use are large enough for the plants you want to grow. Tomatoes, for example, will need at least an 18-24 inch pot – and use high-quality potting soil designed for vegetables, so they get all the nutrients they need.
Sun-loving vegetables like tomatoes and peppers should be placed in a bright, sunny spot, but make sure more delicate plants like lettuce and spinach have some shade to relieve the heat.
2. Mini herb garden
Another great way to bring the garden into your kitchen is to use herbs. Not only will your children be able to participate in the growing process, planning the meals you prepare becomes even more fun.
One idea is to start with some of your children’s favorite foods and have them help you research the herbs they will need to prepare those foods.
Do they like lasagna or pizza? Oregano is essential to the Italian flavor. Are they big on pesto? Basil may be your crop of choice. Start with the final product and work backwards to help them determine which ingredient you will need.
Herbs are great as almost all of them will grow in small pots, which is convenient and can usually be grown indoors. You can make a number of different herbs – thyme, oregano, sage, rosemary, etc. – or stick with one that requires a larger amount, like basil to use in a batch of pesto.
Additionally, many of these herbs can continue to be grown in their indoor pots year round, providing fresh additions to your daily kitchen beyond the summer garden.
Your kids can help you choose or decorate fun pots, fill them with soil, throw seeds or transplant already started herbs, and choose where the plants will be happiest as they grow .
3. Colorful lettuce garden
Lettuce will thrive in cooler weather, such as early spring or fall, and it will provide an ongoing source of salads for your dining table. They are easy to start from seed and there are so many interesting and colorful varieties to choose from.
Lettuces have fairly shallow roots, so you can get by with a long, low container to house your entire lettuce garden.
Have your kids help you choose a variety of colorful and unique lettuce from the selection of seed packets from your local nursery, fill your container with high quality soil and plant rows of various lettuces to create a beautiful and tasty little one. salad harvest.
Green salads are a perfect farm-to-table connection – slice up a few lettuce leaves, make a quick dressing, and combine them into a fresh salad in under five minutes.
4. Crop o ‘carrots
Anyone who has never eaten a carrot straight out of the garden is absent. I still have vivid memories of my early childhood, pulling fresh carrots straight from my mom’s garden and washing the soil with the garden hose for a quick summer snack.
You will need a slightly deeper pot for the carrots, as this is a root vegetable, but about 12 inches deep will be enough for your carrot micro-crop. They are incredibly easy to plant; get good soil and stick the seeds in the soil.
A simple method of planting carrots and other small seeds is to use a clean salt shaker; shaking the seeds will help you avoid over-planting those tiny seeds.
Before you know it, you’ll start to see little carrot heads sticking out their heads.
The only way to know if they are ready is to take one out, but of course “ready” is a matter of opinion in this case.
Tiny carrots are just as tasty as giants, and the longer you wait, the more rewards you’ll reap – what a great way to teach kids about the benefits of patience.
5. Pallet garden
This is a really neat way to create a beautiful space saving garden for a small backyard. Many companies have stacks of pallets that they are happy to get rid of – with a quick search on Craigslist, you will be able to find a lot more pallets than you ever need.
These pallets can be repurposed in a fun and economical vertical or horizontal garden with just a little work.
I won’t go into all the details of creating a pallet garden, as there are hundreds of how-to guides you can find online with a quick Google search, but the basic process is stapling the fabric. landscape inside the pallet to create several vertical rows for planting your vegetable patch.
The main thing to watch out for in general, but especially with children, is sharp nails and chips in pallets, so be aware of this when choosing pallets and building your garden.
You can get your kids to fill it with soil and plant all the vegetables, or even a sweet treat like strawberries. Paint and decorate the palette together to make it look beautiful.
So here are five quick and easy ways to create a garden with your children. Tell them about their food and where it comes from. Have fun and enjoy the fruits (or vegetables) in your work.
Abram Herman is a member of the board of directors of Friends of Youth and Nature (FOYAN), a non-profit organization that encourages young people and families to get out, do outdoor activities and explore nature (www. friendsofyouthandnature.org). Herman was also recently elected to Grand Junction City Council.