How to Grow Vegetables With Your Child
Are your kids eating enough vegetables? Some kids love veggies. Others, not so much. How can you cultivate your child’s love of leafy greens and other fresh produce? Growing a garden together is a great way to start.
Kids ages 2 to 8 should eat around 1 to 1 ½ cups of vegetables per day, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Older kids need a minimum of 2 to 2 ½ cups each day. That cup or two of greens will taste much better if it’s fresh from the garden.
When children their own vegetables, they’re more inclined to eat them. Kids are fascinated by seeds, plants and gardens. Kidspace has its own garden. The children in both our preschool and afterschool programs in Vancouver, Washington enjoy the process of cultivating flowers and food.
You can share the benefits of gardening with your children at home. Starting a vegetable patch is simple. Both you and your kids will get the benefits of fresh air, outdoor activity and, best of all, great tasting, healthy garden produce. Here’s how to get started.
Have a Plan
Work with your child to plan the garden. Talk about what a thriving garden requires: seeds, rich soil, sunlight, water and care.
You and your children can learn about growing plants by reading gardening books together. The Fort Vancouver Regional Library system has many children’s books that focus on growing vegetables and flowers. How-to books are great, but fiction and poetry featuring gardening can spark a child’s imagination.
Choose Seeds and Plants
Choose a mix of seeds and plant starts. You’ll want to include some of your child’s favorites. Fast-growing plants are the most fun for kids. Radishes, for instance, are ideal. They easily and quickly grow from seeds. Other kid-friendly vegetables are carrots, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, snap peas, beans, zucchini and pumpkin.
Buy a few kid-sized gardening tools. Small children will enjoy having a trowel and watering can. Some kids may like a bucket or small wheelbarrow to move soil from place to place. Your kid may get a kick out of wearing gardening gloves and boots.
Find a Sunny Patch
Designate a section of your garden for your child’s vegetable patch. Together you can prepare the soil by weeding and adding amendments. If you’re breaking ground, consider building a raised bed or two. If you don’t have a yard, give container gardening a shot. Look for smaller vegetables such as peppers or cherry tomatoes. Herbs such as basil, cilantro and parsley grow well in a patio pot.
Serve ‘em Up!
Children that grow vegetables will be eager to sample the fruits of their labor. You and your child can have fun checking on the progress of the garden. When the weather warms up, some plants will appear to grow and ripen over night.
Be prepared to let a child graze through the garden. Keep the hose at the ready because you’ll doubtless want to wash off the dirt and enjoy an al fresco snack of veggies. For food that needs cooking, encourage your child to join in the preparation. They can wash, peel and cut.
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