By Guest Blogger,
Looking for a family project to involve the kids and to get them outside? I recommend getting dirty and creating a “backyard” garden. This is our second year experimenting with our vegetable and herb garden, and based upon our limited experience, we can make the following recommendations:
PLAN AHEAD –Decide as a family what you enjoy eating and plant the ingredients to create your favorite dishes. The kids are more likely to participate and enjoy the process when they like to eat the things that you grow. You can easily grill fresh vegetables, create delicious salsa, pesto for pasta or pizza, salads, spaghetti sauce, etc. We planted tomatoes, a variety of peppers, squash, zucchini, cucumber, eggplant, strawberries, snap peas, soybeans and lots of herbs this year.
KEEP IT SIMPLE – Plan on committing a weekend to building the garden. I recommend constructing raised beds in a sunny spot in your yard. Use 2” x 10” x 10 ft boards to construct a border to your garden and fill the middle with compost or soil. Borrow you neighbor’s pickup truck and take the kids to visit Compost Central located on West Boulevard. You can fill up the truck’s bed with compost for $20!
WEED, WEED, WEED – In the beginning, you have to get down and dirty at least once a week. Make sure you have gloves and a metal rake. This really helps with the weeding process. If you miss a weekend, you will have to work a little bit harder to catch up. Kids can help with weeding, although it is not a favorite activity! Make sure they have gloves, rakes and shovels. You can buy these at Target or your local hardware store.
KEEP IT NATURAL-We used bamboo that had fallen during the snowstorm to make a fence around the garden. The kids released hundreds of ladybugs into the garden to help reduce insects. You can buy these at local gardening shops (American Beauty Garden Store on Central Ave has them).
ENJOY THE FRUITS (AND VEGETABLES) OF YOUR LABOR –The kids enjoy picking vegetables so make sure you have everything ready to make it a fun and easy process. Keep a basket handy and send them out to the garden to pick ripened veggies. Since they have worked along with you during the growing process, they are able to identify veggies and herbs easily. They love to see them added to their meal. Hopefully they will learn to enjoy all vegetables one day!
Kids can water the garden for you, clip flowers for arrangements, etc. It is never too early to get their thumbs green!
Thank you Amy for these smarty tips! As always, we would love to hear some of your gardening with kids’ experiences!