I always liked the idea of having a garden, but I did not actually make this happen until I had kids. We bought an above-ground raised bed box when my first child was a year old and started our gardening adventure. It has now become one of my kids’ favorite things to look forward to as the seasons turn.
We tend to do a spring and winter garden, changing it out 2 times a year (we’re lucky to live in California where this is possible!). My kids love to be hands-on and help. They are great at using a kid-sized shovel to turn the soil, add new soil or compost, and of course, to dig the holes for planting.
My kids enjoy our biannual trip to the garden store to pick out what to plant. I like to do a combination of planting by seed and buying starter plants. Planting by seed takes a little extra preparation, but to take a dry tiny seed and grow a plant in a matter of days to weeks is quite incredible and can be a magical experience for a child! However, I also get starter plants because I have had less luck planting some vegetables from seed. I always let each of my kids choose at least 1 to 2 veggies to plant along with my favorites and what I know is fail-proof. Every soil and climate is different, so you have to experiment with what works best in your area.
These are some of our favorites:
I truly feel that teaching kids where food comes from helps them understand health. Kids who take the time to pick out their veggies to grow, and put in the effort to plant, water, and then patiently watch things grow, are more likely to taste, eat, and enjoy fresh vegetables. The excitement on my kids’ faces when a big crown of broccoli is ready to be harvested is priceless! And I have finally resigned myself to the fact that I will never get to enjoy my cherry tomato crop, as it has become a snacking garden for my kids and their friends.
Here are my top tips:
Contributor: Allison Collins, MD