Spring has sprung and summer is on its way, which means it’s time for one of my favorite activities of the year–growing my vegetable garden! Gardening not only provides delicious vegetables for your family dinner table at very economical prices- it’s also a wonderful thing to share with your children.
Five Reasons to Garden with the Kids
- They’ll try something new. Food that a child has planted, watered, tended and harvested themselves is immediately more interesting. By gardening, you may finally be able to get your kids to try beets, turnips and a whole host of things you never thought they’d touch.
- They’ll experience new tastes. Vegetables start converting sugars to starches the moment they are picked-so the sooner you eat them after harvesting, the sweeter they taste. Once your kids have tried a fresh green bean just seconds after it’s been picked from the vine you may have trouble keeping them OUT of the garden.
- They’ll find there is always something to see. Seeds that have sprouted. Creeping bugs. Dark earth full of wriggling worms. Toads that bound away. Plants starting to flower. Plants putting out fruit. Everywhere you turn in a garden, there are scents, colors, life and changes to point out and share. Make it a daily ritual to check the garden and enjoy the time together.
- They can’t help but learn. Being in the garden and seeing things bloom, grow then fade helps kids learn about the seasons. Watching bees and discussing why some flowers turn to fruit and others don’t teaches them about how things in our environment connect. Planting different varieties of vegetables shows them the incredible diversity of nature – that carrots can be red and beans can be purple, that with some plants we eat the leaves (lettuce), others we eat the flower (broccoli) and still others we eat the root (beets). It is learning by doing – and that will make it stay with them a very long time!
- They’ll get exercise, fresh air and sunshine. Sure it’s a rare kid that will say “Gee, can I please go weed the garden?”–but digging holes, attacking things with the hoe, harvesting vegetables, rolling the wheelbarrow full of weeds to the compost bin. . . all of these are things most kids are happy to do for at least a little while-and they’re all exercise! Each gardening activity uses different muscles, and by the nature of the activity they HAVE to be doing it out in the fresh air with the sun shining down on them.
Even if you don’t have a yard big enough for a garden, you can get many of the same results by planting some pots on the patio, or a window box or two of lettuce on the fire escape.
Have you ever gardened with your children? What was their favorite thing about it?
Jenn Fowler is a blogger, speaker, social media consultant and ex-Army Officer. She lives in a quaint village in Upstate New York with her husband Yankee Bill and their two wild and creative children—Princess (11) and Buddy (9). When she isn’t blogging about living a good life on a budget at Frugal Upstate, she is gardening, reading, acting, crafting, cooking and knitting—although not necessarily in that order.