I love spring, a time for new beginnings and do-overs it seems in the garden world. I have had my share of do-overs. The time I planted two Sweet-100 Cherry Tomato Plants for my husband and I (pre-kids), and realized they are called sweet 100 for a reason! The whole neighborhood was eating their share of lycopene that year. Or the time I decided it would be fun to plant a zucchini plant right next to the sweet bell peppers – which ended up not growing due to the tremendous amounts of shade provided by the large zucchini leaves. I have made my share of mistakes, but that is how learning takes place.
I now have been gardening on my own for over 12 years and during the past 7 years, I have been incorporating my children into that garden to help them learn as well. This is the year my kids will take a little more ownership of the garden by both having their own “share” of the garden. My son has chosen to plant zuchhini, tomatoes and cucumbers. My daughter is going for buried treasures – planning to plant potatoes, carrots and onions.
Here are some great ways to getting the whole family involved in gardening:
- Rent out a plot of land to your children. You can have your children start the process from the beginning, showing them how to prepare the garden for planting. Then tending to their produce all season long and what if you payed them for their harvest? You could pay them by the pound or the piece – think something reasonable – either way it will give them a sense of pride in knowing they nurtured a plant to harvest in the garden.
- Have a garden work day weekly. It could be a weekend day or a weeknight – just plan an hour or two to tidy and tend to the garden. As a family you can note the progress every week through growth measurements and recording the changes in a journal. And when everyone is helping, the time spent working together is irreplaceable (not to mention, everything goes a little faster).
- Bring the harvest into the kitchen. This is the perfect time to teach how to harvest and then get creative in the kitchen. Have some fun in the kitchen with your family and create a meal from the garden.
- Take lots of photos and make a garden collage or scrapbook at the end of the season. This would also be the perfect time to think about how you can use what you’ve learned for a science project or fair project. Celebrate your accomplishment as a family.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes – because you will. What’s really important is that you’ve taken the first step to growing a healthy family.