What better way to encourage your children to eat veggies than to plant a vegetable garden? Children will learn about where their food comes from, how seeds sprout, and how plants grow. They’ll do some work planting, weeding and harvesting and a great deal of healthy playing. They’ll find a little dirty, and that is all to the good.

For the best success, involve your children in planning their backyard. If you are a think-ahead individual, you can purchase seed catalogs now. When you find the seed packets in the shops, it is time to start your plan.

Before beginning, you’ll have to understand how large your garden will be. If you don’t have a backyard, you want a sunny place not too far away from the water spigot, so the kids can manage at least some of the watering. If you do not have a garden place, you may have the ability to get a community garden area. Otherwise, think containers!

Don’t make the distance too big the first year. You want your children to have fun with their backyard and too big a garden is just a lot of work for little hands.

Once you understand how large you want your garden to be and where you’re place it, draw the backyard space on chart paper. Use 1 inch on the chart paper to get a foot in the backyard. Put the tallest plants on the north side of the backyard, where they won’t color the other plants. Otherwise, let your imagination rule.

Ask the kids what they would like to grow. Seed catalogs, other gardeners or your county extension agent can inform you if a specific crop will grow in your climate. Or, you may simply experiment.

Consider linking sticks together teepee-style and growing runner beans on them to make a secret place the kids can play . Remember to include a few things that sprout fast, like radishes, so the kids have”instant” success.

There’s absolutely no rule that says paths have to be directly, but do leave space for them so the children can harvest and weed — and just run around. Don’t be afraid to combine flowers and vegetables. You’ll have fewer insect pests and other problems if you do. Plant in rows or in stains, whichever you prefer.

Once you’ve your garden plan worked out, the kids can place pictures of the plants at the right places on the strategy. Use cutouts from seed catalogs or magazines, or have them draw and paint the plants and flowers that they aspire to grow.

For those who have a sunny window, then follow your plan up by planting a few summer squash seeds in paper cups. Punch drainage holes at the bottom of the cups, fill them with potting soil, and push in the seeds. Water and set them on a tray in sunlight. (If a few die, that is OK, because you will have more succulent than you can give away anyway!)

When it is time to plant the garden, ensure you have all the necessary tools available so the kids don’t get frustrated when you must stop to find something. Depending on how long you need to work in the garden, you might want to break up a few of the tasks into different days. For instance, getting the soil ready may be a job for one Saturday; planting could be saved for the next Saturday. Or, you might want to prepare the soil ahead, so the kids can just do the fun part!

Gardens need daily maintenance, so make a simple growing calendar to your kids. Purchase a large desk calendar for your wall or use poster board and mark off the days of the month. Use colorful decals or construction paper pictures of watering cans, weeds, and other tasks to help kids remember what they should do and when they should do it.

Most importantly, remember to have fun. If the rows are not perfect, or the backyard becomes too much water daily, let it go. This garden is your opportunity to instill in your children a lifelong love of growing and caring for living things. Additionally, it can be a fantastic source of pride to your children, so make sure you make a huge deal about it and praise the garden frequently.

When it is time to harvest the tiny crops, have your kids help you select recipes to use the veggies, and package up gift baskets to the excess bounty. Don’t forget to have a photo of your kid in the garden!

 

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