Our little ones are curious by nature, and it is wonderful to watch them learn something new and challenging. Youngsters absolutely adore playing outside, digging in the dirt and getting dirty. Gardening represents a fantastic way to teach your children so much; how to plant, maintain, take care of and nurture plants and vegetables. As they watch the vegetables grow you will watch your kids grow in responsibility and self-confidence.
Start off with the basics – seeds
The first thing to show your children is the life-cycle of any given vegetable. Seeds are the start of life and kids should learn how and where to plant them, how much to water them, and how long a plant takes to grow. Kids generally enjoy planting seeds and watching them, grow and bloom. Not only that but by ending up with a fruit-bearing plant or a tasty vegetable your kids achieve a sense of satisfaction.
The necessary equipment
It is essential to show them the tools of the trade. And, of course, point them out which tools serve for each purpose, and which ones to avoid – for the time being. If you have a 4-year-old, don’t give him a rake, but rather a pair of gloves and a small scoop. Since your little ones will be doing the job ensure you get good quality tools such as the ones Hoselink has to offer. Alternatively, you can get miniature, toy tools, but with time get the kids to use the real ones in their vegetable garden.
Plan your vegetable garden
There are many factors to consider when planning a kid-friendly vegetable garden. If you already have plants or seeds for certain fruit and vegetables, then brainstorm where to place your kids’ special corner.
You will need to consider the sun and shade requirements of your plants as well as the drainage of the soil. If you are limited in the spaces you can use then you will have to let the light and soil conditions dictate which plants you choose to grow.
My recommendations for the best vegetables for kids to grow can be found elsewhere on RedheadedPatti.com in the article 5 Easy Vegetables For Kids To Grow
Alternatively, you could use containers in which to plant your vegetable garden. You do not need to go out and spend a lot of money on fancy planters though, we have planted potatoes in buckets and strawberries in old boots!
Many people have a small backyard layout with ground unsuitable for planting but don’t let that stop you from planting a vegetable garden with your kids. You can build simple raised beds in which to grow your goodies.
You can build a basic, bottomless frame, add good soil and start planting. Raised beds also allow you to control the soil quality and keep the plants protected from those little trampling feet. Your kids would enjoy watching the progress of their plants, and you won’t have to worry about nasty weeds invading their tiny space.
Have fun together
To make your vegetable garden even more entertaining, have fun with your design. For example, you could take a large hula hoop and plant the ingredients for a pizza. Or you could plant peppers, tomatoes, cilantro and later your kids can pick those vegetables and make delicious salsa.
There are also plenty of games to play in your vegetable garden. You could plant one squash, two rows of tomatoes, three lines of carrots and so on, or plant vegetables alphabetically. That can be both educational and fun for the little ones. Encourage your children’s creativity and have them plant vegetables in their unique way.
There are plenty of terrific books out there with endless suggestions for fun activities in the garden. We particularly enjoyed Outdoor Crafts by Dorling Kindersley and, if you’re interested, you can read our review of this fab, fun, kids book.
Care and harvest
Once you have planted your vegetable garden, it is time to teach your littles how to take care of their plants. Set up a calendar that would notify you and your kids when it is the time to spray the plants with the organic bug repellent, pluck the weeds, or water their growing charges. Get your kids invested by having a contest who would pull out the most weeds or who will water the plants most quickly.
In the end, there is nothing more satisfying than observing the growth and progress of your products. When the vegetables are ready for harvest, make sure that you have a camera next to you and take a picture of their first veggie. You can even show them how to preserve their product and make a herbarium.
When you have picked all of your plants, the fun doesn’t have to stop there. Search for delicious recipes that you can make with your vegetables. For instance, you can bake savory zucchini bread or your own juicy pizza. You can also fill up your pantry with certain vegetables, or if you happen to have an abundance of leftover plants you can distribute them to the friends and neighbors. Later, prepare the ground for the upcoming season.
You can also teach your children how to grow further vegetables, indoors from the scraps left over from using your outdoor veggies!
Vegetable gardening with kids is productive in many ways, just bear in mind to keep it fun.