It’s freezing cold outside. It is frosty and icy almost every morning and there is more mud than grass in our paddocks.
But, the days are getting longer and the seed catalouges have arrived so now is the time to plan this years food garden.
I have plans, big plans….plans that are possibly way too big, but we’re going to have fun trying, the kids and I.
Getting the kids into the garden is easy if you keep them in mind when you are planning. Here’s how we are planing a kid friendly food garden for this spring/summer…
Grow Things You Can Eat Straight from the Garden
One of the best ways to get your kids excited by the garden and veggies in general is to grow foods they can pick and eat straight away.
Each of our kids have their favourite pick and eat plants, and there is nothing better than watching the girls snack on fresh peas or the toddler come in from the garden with strawberry juice all down his front. And your kids may even eat things they previously wouldn’t touch. My big boy doesn’t normally eat fresh tomatoes, except for the cherry tomatoes he eats straight from the vine.
Some great ‘pick and eat’ plants are…
Grow At least Some Things From Seed.
Growing things from seed may seem like a lot of extra work, but there is something magical about planting a little seed, watching it sprout on your window sill and then grow and grow. And it’s not as hard as you might think.
If you have a sunny windowsill or sheltered outdoor spot, you can use recycled containers, or toilet rolls or even newspaper to make small pots. Get some seed raising mix, plant your seeds, keep them moist and watch them grow. And some seeds you can plant directly into the garden – even easier!
I order most of my seeds online from Eden Seeds and Diggers.
Some easy to grow from seed plants are…
Peas -directly into the garden
Beans – directly into the garden
Marigolds – in pots or directly into the garden
Zucchini or squash – in pots to get a head start, or into the garden after the last frost.
Pumpkins – in pots to get a head start, or into the garden after the last frost.
Grow Flowers as well as Food.
Apart from the fact that flowers look nice, they also help attract both beneficial insects and kids to the garden.
Plant some hardy flowering plants and allow your kids to pick them. My lot love using flowers and flower petals to make ‘potions’ and ‘magic spells’. They also love to pick little bunches of flowers to put on the table or give as gifts. There are also several edible flowers that you can add to salads for something fun and different.
Some good flowers to plant are…
Daisies – most can be picked to oblivion and still survive.
Lavender – also can be picked a lot!
Calendula – easy to grow, petals can be dried and used to make salves and creams.
Nasturtiums – great companions for veggies, flowers can be eaten
Viola/Johnny Jump-Ups – flowers can be eaten
Grow the foods your kids like to eat
This is the best gardening advice I’ve ever been given and it goes double for kids. Grow the veggies they like to eat.
We grow lots of zucchinis, cucumbers and pumpkins because my lot love them, and they are easy to grow. You can get the kids involved with planting the seeds, planting out seedlings, watering and finally harvesting and then, the best bit… eating their favourite veggies that they grew themselves!
Grow Something a Little Weird and Wonderful!
Growing something a bit funny or weird is a sure fire way to get my kids interested. Maybe it is a funny looking flower, or an unusual looking veggie, something a little different is a fun addition to the garden.
Some weird things you could grow are…
Gourds – come in weird shapes and sizes and can be used for craft when dried.
Sunflowers – grow the biggest variety you can find and see who can grow the tallest flower
purple peas, really long beans or black tomatoes – you can get veggies in all kinds of weird varieties that are lots of fun to try.
Let the Kids Get Involved.
I try not to be too precious about the garden, I think that’s important if you have kids around.
If someone yanks out a seedling instead of a weed we just pop it back in and hope for the best. It doesn’t matter if the seeds are sewn in a wonky line that is not perfectly spaced, the plants don’t mind much. I let the kids pick the flowers if they want, showing them the ones they pick heaps of and the things they should only take one or two of. I give them a space to dig mud and look for worms and I let them get wet and muddy while doing the watering.
After all, I am not after a perfect veggie garden, my goal is to grow foods WITH my kids and share the magic that is a food garden.
Have you got any great tips for growing a kid friendly food garden, or just a veggie garden in general?
Can you recommend other sites to buy seeds online?
If you’ve written a post about your spring/summer garden plans, or if you live on the other side of the world and want to show us your current glorious food garden, please leave a comment with a link to your post.
Read the comments or scroll down to add your own:
Bek @ Just For Daisy says
This is great! I can’t wait to get our veggie patch started and really hope Miss 2 enjoys it! :) :) Some great ideas here, thanks Kate!
my kids love the garden and picking fresh fruit/veg. These are some great ideas!
So great to get the kids into the garden, and enjoying growing things! My kids also love growing things they can pick and eat :-) So strawberries are a big hit here! My son also has his own little plot and gets to choose what he grows there. He loves going out and checking it. We’ve been meaning to grow sunflowers, so we must do that this year – thanks for the reminder!!
Lisa @ Off the Couch Kids says
Great piece! Love that you are not too precious about the garden and that it is all about sharing the magic.
Lovely post Kate. Funny you should say on FB that you’re itching to get out there but still not warm enough. We’ve been spending every spare minute we have in the garden, trying to get as much done as we can under these warm blue skies, before the summer kicks in! I’m not good in the heat, and these ‘wintry’ temperatures have been perfect for an English gal like me! Thanks for the invite; it just so happens that my last post was all in the garden! Here it is: http://findingthatplacecalledhome.blogspot.com.au/2012/08/thursday-garden-journal_2.html
You have inspired me, I’m not very good at growing things (I even managed to kill an air plant once) but I’d love to give growing our own food a try. I love the point about growing things from seeds, I just know my girls would love to watch that process.
You know I always thought I was a terrible gardener… turns out I just didn’t plant enough stuff! If you plant a lot and a good range of things, you’ll find something that grows well at your house and you’ll suddenly discover that you aren’t so bad in the garden after all!
It’s time! We just planted snow peas and we really need to get the starwberries in our garen asap. I’ve noticed that I don’t have to worry so much about the childrens’ diet when there’s salad, vegies and fruits in the garden. The fresh produce never makes it to the house, so I know their eating well!
Kylie @ Octavia and Vicky says
I really MUST get out into the garden with Pebble and plant some fruits and or vegetables. We have a big garden bed just waiting for some love. I am SO clueless when it comes to gardening though. Only one way to learn, I guess :)
I was totally clueless when I started… am still somewhat clueless when it comes to the technicalities! I highly recommend any gardening books/articles by Jackie French… her philosophy of ‘stick it in the ground and see if it grows… if it does, plant more’ has worked well for me!
I love gardening but I’ve discovered I’m a bit of a fair weather gardener. I have overgrown cabbages waiting to be picked out there but I’m just too soft to get out there and get them. Perhaps I should send the kids – not quite ‘pickable’ but I’m sure they’d have fun trying to work out how to get them out.
I am a fair weather gardener as well… I planted nothing but garlic and potatoes over winter this year, and only because I really badly wanted those things to be ready come summer! LOL
What a lovely post. I’m not a precious gardener either and encourage children to be the same. It’s great to experiment and see what can happen in the garden rather than following strict guidelines – I think children learn more this way.
I’ve written a number of posts on kids in the garden so please feel free to come across and have a read – http://www.gardening4kids.com.au/blog.
Ness @ One Perfect Day says
This is such a great post Kate. So many fantastic ideas. I love the thought of eating straight from the vine. I’ve always been clueless about gardening – we have 2 vege patches but they’ve always been Mark’s domain. I’m determined this year to sort out a special part of the garden just for R so I really need to figure out what I’m doing!
I loved this. For a long time I’ve been wanting to start a vegetable and herb garden (mainly to encourage my picky eater to embrace the veg) but I’ve been lacking inspiration. This post was really helpfu, thank you.
Hi Sorry for the late comment. Just wanted to let you know of a fun ‘weird and wonderful’ that I grew with my biggest girl last year. They’re called spaghetti squash, they look like a cross between a pumpkin and a melon, you cook them whole, cut them open and the flesh inside falls away like spaghetti. They taste great too. We’ll definitely be planting more this year. Thanks for writing, I just found your blog whilst doing some gardening research of fun things to do with the kids this year and got a bit sidetracked (-: We just moved to a property with acreage and I can’t wait for winter to be over and to get going in the garden!