How To Get Your Kids Into Vegetable Gardening
Hello fellow Earthlings and welcome to our fourth and final installment on
cool season vegetable garden planting. In this discussion children are the
primary topic. We will be talking about ways to make the garden a happy
family project as well as an incredible instrument for teaching your kids
the amazing ways that nature works. So let's take a walk in the garden and
bring the kids along.
Over the years, I have heard a thousand stories of how particular gardeners
got started and why gardening is the most popular hobby in this country for
both men and women. Most of these testimonials begin with mom, dad, or
grandparents that were avid gardeners who shared their passion. Some grew
up on farms or had family members involved in farming (like me). No matter
how many of these stories I hear, I am thrilled to share these tales of
inspiration. The one common thread is that when these gardeners were
children, someone they looked up to or loved shared the gifts of nature
with them. It makes no difference whether these people grow vegetables,
flowers, exotic plants, or cactus. They all share a keen desire to learn
and understand how plants grow and have a deep appreciation for their
relationship with nature.
In the past three discussions we have concentrated on cool season vegetable
gardening. This type of gardening is one of the easiest ways a parent can
get their children interested in nature and out from in front of the bloody
television set. Children are naturally inquisitive and keeping them
interested in the garden is simple once you really share it with them.
will ask the most incredible questions about soil, plants, sunlight, water,
and their favorite "Why questions". It helps to know some of these things
in order for you to keep them interested. In my book Natural Gardening A-Z
(shameless plug) many brief and easy to understand responses to these
questions are provided for you so you can share your amazing knowledge with
Children will happily participate in any project they can share with their
parents. The key to keeping them interested is to have special garden
projects that are theirs. It is always best to give them the projects in
the garden that are faster and more interesting to a developing sense of
self-awareness. One of my favorite vegetable garden plants to share with
kids is a radish. These plants go from seed to table in less than one
month. Lettuce is also a fast growing plant that will keep them interested.
It is important for them to experience plant growth in a time they
understand. These plants grow very fast and each time your child sees them
they will be different in ways that are not too subtle. It is also a good
idea to share their insights when they attempt to explain their increasing
understanding of how they feel this whole plant growth thing works. Listen
to them, you may learn something. To quote Mr. Art Linkletter "Kids say the
darndest things". No fancy psychological ploys are necessary, your children
will naturally share with you what they perceive to be true about how the
garden is doing. They may be right on!
Other plants that really interest children are ones that climb or vine.
Pole beans and peas are very intriguing to kids because they grow very
fast, have interesting flowers, and can be trained onto a number of
structures that can actually provide your kids with "forts". Tipis are a
favorite structure to train these plants onto. These tipis provide the
plants with excellent support while they give your kids a very cool place
to hid and play. It is a good idea to put a couple of these tipis around
the garden to give them places to do make the believe stuff that makes
childhood so great. Make a big one if you have room in the garden so you
can get inside one with them on occasion. Play a little hide and go seek
with mom or dad to keep them interested in spending time in the garden.
These times in the garden will be something they remember as family time
and will seek out opportunities to have more of them.
My favorite way to share in the garden is something that can only be done
in a naturally tended organic plot. I love to have a small pail of water
with me while I am in the vegetable garden. When certain plants are ready
to harvest, I like to rinse them right there in the garden and munch away.
This is one thing that gardening really does well. It gets your kids
interested in eating their veggies. Don't go overboard here, let the kids
come to you for the sharing. They may even bring you some to eat. Eat them
eagerly but don't try to force them to eat any. If they see you munching
away paying no attention to them, their natural curiosity will want to see
what is so damn tasty. Then you've got them hooked. This kind of bond
cannot be share in a garden where pesticides and chemical fertilizers are
used because the produce from these gardens need to be washed, scrubbed,
and have pesticide residues washed off of them with soap and water. Watch
your kids, soon they will be eating snow peas right off of the plant, it's
Next time we will be discussing community gardens for children that are
sponsored by cities, private donation, botanical gardens, or schools. See
you in the Garden!
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