Its spring time and one way to celebrate the outdoors and help kids re-connect with the earth, plants and growing things, is by letting them plant their own vegetable patch. Vegetables are some of the easiest plants to grow from seed. For kids, watching a tiny seed grow, tending to its needs and protecting it from invaders (in the form of bugs and slugs), can be quite an adventure!
We all know kids love to dig in the dirt. Imagine if digging produced buried treasure in the form of potatoes, radishes and carrots. If you’ve never thought of starting a vegetable garden with your child, consider this — according to the USDA, less than 20 percent of school-aged children eat the recommended three to four servings of vegetables per day.
Growing your own veggies with your kids can encourage a fussy eater to eat more vegetables. How? For starters, vegetables picked and eaten the same day taste better than store bought varieties grown for their long shelf life. But you can’t let on that you’re a veggie-pusher. Instead, up the fun-factor and let Mother Nature do it for you.
Here are some kid-friendly gardening tips to keep in mind:
- Tap in to your inner-child. What’s not fun about a bean teepee, potatoes grown in an old tire, lettuce growing in a worn-out sneaker? And kids are captivated by anything “baby,” such as bite-size baby tomatoes or anything “giant” like sunflowers, pumpkins and squash.
- Keep the garden patch a manageable size. A 3’ x 3’ plot is about right for a preschooler, 4’ x 4’ for older children.
- Acquire kid-size gardening tools so they’ll be able to work comfortably.
- Stick to a handful of varieties and let them choose. More than likely, they will choose vegetables they like and want to eat.
- Allow them to make a mess and make mistakes ─ let them take ownership of their little plot of land.