I will never forget my first experience with a vegetable garden. I was maybe 6 years old, and my family was staying with friends of my parents while we looked for a house in a new town. My parents’ friends were farmers and had a real vegetable garden, cows, pigs, and the whole nine yards. I was in HEAVEN!
One night before dinner, my mother’s friend asked me if I wanted to get vegetables for the meal. Sure I did, I loved going for rides in the car. So once outside I promptly ran to the car and waited. I was expecting to go to the grocery store and get vegetables.
She laughed when she realized what I had been expecting and directed me over to their big garden that was overflowing with all kinds of plant life. The first row had green leafy things sticking out of the ground all the way down the row. She told me to grab one and pull. I did and out came…A CARROT!
Oh my goodness was I hooked from that point on and vowed to one day have a farm, a garden, and live that life. I got to pick carrots, tomatoes, corn, and green beans. Each time I picked something from their vines or pulled them out of the ground I was more and more amazed.
Now that my own family has moved to the country, thoughts about gardens, flower beds, and trees are rampant. The kids love getting dirty. Seeing something grow they planted and tended too is so exciting for them.
Last year when we lived in the city, we planted a few flowers and a tomato bush in containers in our yard. Each morning the younger kids would update me on the flower and tomato plants’ progress, “Mom, there are green things coming out of the ground where you planted that bulb last week! Mom, the tomato plant has two tomatoes on it!”
The reports were filled with excitement and surprise and anticipation of what they would see next. They also enjoyed the taste of fresh-from-the-vine cherry tomatoes from our lone little tomato plant, which did surprisingly well and produced far longer than we thought it would.
Planting things with your children can be a really enjoyable activity and one that brings with it many benefits. Not only can they learn about plant anatomy, growth and pollination, but they can learn responsibility and how to take care of the flowers and plants to ensure they produce delicious vegetables, fruits, or beautiful flowers.
No matter where you live, you can give your child the opportunity to grow a little herb garden, some flowers in pots, or like we did, a tomato plant in a container. If you have room outdoors, or you do gardening yourself, children can make great garden helpers. Older ones can help plan the garden, and you can even make it a school project if you home school.
Any age child can help pick out flower seeds and vegetable seeds they would like to grow. Seeds are plentiful almost anywhere and are very inexpensive. We got tons of vegetable and flower seeds at 4 for $1.00, so we loaded up! Of course I may need acres to actually plant all those seeds, but we’re prepared to have plenty of growing things in the next few months.
If you feel like you don’t have a green thumb, don’t be discouraged. You’ll be glad to know this doesn’t have to rob you of the enjoyment and pleasure of growing things with your children. There are watering alert globes to let you know exactly when to water your flowers and veggies, packaged kits with everything you need inside, and of course the seed packets have complete instructions on them.
If you’re growing things for the first time, consider starting small with maybe just a few flowers. Try soaking the seeds before you plant them into the ground. Soaking them softens the seeds up, so they can sprout easier and faster.
Container gardening has gotten very popular due to so many in the city wanting to grow their own food and just simply loving flowers, so if your child wants to try vegetables, don’t let a lack of space stop you. Choose tomatoes, peppers, or squash, and plant them in a larger container. The containers can be kept on decks, porches, or patios, and they look really nice too.
Something that might be fun for your child is to take a picture of their flowers or vegetables from the very beginning of their growing journey. For example, take a picture of the child picking out their seeds, then of the seeds in the glass soaking (just use water by the way. and it only needs to be soaked overnight), then you can take pictures of them doing the actual planting, and so on.
It will be a lifetime memory in pictures for them of their first “planting creation.” Watching the process in pictures will be fun later to see it go from seed to flower or vegetable!
If you have any budding entrepreneurs, selling fresh flowers and vegetables they have grown themselves can be a fun thing to do and teaches them customer service, math (handling money), and other valuable life skills. You don’t have to be a homeschooler to benefit from the lessons planting and gardening can offer. It works no matter where your child does his schooling.
The kids are super excited to get started planting around here. I have my garden spot all picked out at our new place, and it’s been plowed once. We need to till it again and then get started designing where we want everything to go. Hopefully we will be doing that this week. It’s been said planting on or close to Good Friday is the optimum time to plant!
My children want to try it all this year: tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, green beans, peas, potatoes, fruit trees, pumpkins, and watermelon. They want carrots, squash, corn, and zucchini too. It will be quite the adventure, but we’re up to it!
I have plenty of weeders, diggers, planters, and of course EATERS, when the time comes! I’m thinking I will let each one choose a vegetable they want to plant and care for. They love having a sense of accomplishment and pride in themselves, and I know seeing their vegetable grow, and even better, seeing them on the plate at dinner will be something that will thrill them to pieces.
With Mother’s Day coming this month, it could be a wonderful gift to Mom for a child to plant flowers for her in a pretty pot. It’s something that will last for awhile, and if the child plants perennials (comes back every year on their own) they’ll re-bloom every year and remind mom of the sweet, loving gift she got on her special day.
Now if I can just get my 10 year old daughter to quit calling the ground the “floor,” we’ll have this country lifestyle well underway!
Alisha Land is the mother of 8 fun loving kids, and the owner of a company that makes wonderful, natural wood blocks for kids of all ages, ‘Big Box of Blocks’. She also owns Kids Home Safe, a safety education company. Her new website is underway which will follow her family’s transition from city living to country living among other things and will be a great resource for all kinds of families. Contact – Facebook – Twitter – LinkedIn – Website
Photo Credit – Simon Howden