By Lisa Singer, Inventor of the Backyard Botanical Gardening Systems, avid gardener, mom, wife, entrepreneur and former lawyer
What better way to teach your children about healthy living than growing your own vegetables together? Kids are natural gardeners. By the time they’re about 4 years old, they’re eager to help and ready to learn about growing veggies. Plus, children are more likely to eat – or at least try – vegetables they’ve grown themselves. Here are a few ideas for getting the kids involved:
- Plant seeds together. Peas, beans, corn and sunflower seeds are larger than most plant seeds, and are easier to handle. Just poke a hole in the soil and drop in the seed. Other veggies that are also very easy to grow include carrots, beets, zucchini and radish.
- Buy a couple strawberry plants and teach your child how to transplant them.
- Use white plant identification stakes and let your child color them with permanent markers. If the child is old enough to write, have him write the name of the vegetable on each marker. Otherwise, a drawing will do the trick.
- Let your child help water the garden.
- Harvest the veggies together. Sometimes beans and peas blend in among the leaves and it’s hard to spot them. Let the kids join in your hunt for veggies. See who can find the largest one.
Growing vegetables is fun and rewarding for the entire family. Of course, the experience is much more satisfying when the garden is successful. To make sure your garden thrives, pick a sunny spot and start with quality garden soil. Raised beds will reduce weeds (which can be confused with seedlings) and a critter-proof design will also help ensure your success.
My kids and I recently baked a few fun and unique recipes that everyone enjoyed. Oven-Baked Carrot Fries are delicious (www.williams-sonoma.com) and were a huge hit (and the kids got a serving of veggies). Many children are weary of eating beets. However, when they’re in a cake, the neighborhood kids come running. My daughter and I baked a Chocolate Red Beet Cake (www.farmfreshtoyou.com). We make this cake every year. It looks like an ordinary chocolate cake and you can’t really taste the beets. My kids trick their friends into eating it, telling them it’s just chocolate cake. That’s until everyone has eaten their piece – then my kids will say “You just ate beets!”No matter how you introduce your children to the garden, the experience is sure to be rewarding and beneficial for all in the long run.
To watch Lisa’s garden grow, learn tips about gardening, and find out what recipe she and her kids try next, visit Backyard Botanical, and start following her at @Gardens2Gro on Twitter. To purchase an Oasis garden for your backyard, visit your local Sam’s Club or Sam’s Club online.