We have had a box garden since we moved into our house in 2008. Our son is 3, and he got really interested in my mom’s garden (and ours) last summer. This year, in order to get him to eat more vegetables, I thought it would be fun to really get him involved with planning, planting and picking. So far, so good!
Lucas chose to grow carrots. We went through seed packets at the store in the spring, and that was what he really wanted to do. (I also have zucchini, squash, cucumbers, many tomato plants and lettuce. There is also oregano, basil and mint growing in the garden or in pots.)
We planted the carrot seeds in May. I chose some that should be ready within 65 days of planting. Every day that we are outside, Lucas asks “are the carrots growing yet??” I saw some in May that were sprouting…and then they weren’t. I had forgotten to water them. So I quickly put more seeds in and began watering more frequently. In June, we’d been fortunate for some rain. We haven’t gotten so lucky in July and August, but somehow a few of our plants are still growing.
I’m hoping that since my boy is interested in picking the vegetables, he’ll eventually enjoy eating them. Fingers crossed. For now, a few tips to get your little one in on the excitement!
1. Let your child pick out a vegetable that they are excited about.
2. Teach them about the growing process. It’s going to take a while. I told Lucas that we could pick things in July (so when we were able to pick things in June, he got really happy about it.)
3. Buy them tools to help you. Lucas has his own trowel, wheelbarrow and watering can. I fill his watering can and he can water certain plants. I just make sure that he doesn’t have too much water (he’ll drown the vegetables) and that he waters before I finish watering the garden. It is better to get the kids their own tools, instead of giving them heavy machinery, Anything can happen and you’d rather not risk it. If you are using heavy tools and equipment around kids, once you are done, be sure to put them somewhere safe and out of sight. This way, the kids don’t get tempted to use them without permission. A good solution to ensuring your tools are safe and out of sight is by keeping it in a storage unit. No matter where you live, you can always find a company that will provide this service. For example, if you live in Australia, looking into finding self storage in perth will help you find sufficient storage space for your gardening equipment. It is certainly something worth looking into, especially if it means keeping the kids safe.
4. Teach them about harvesting. What color do the vegetables need to be before we can pick them? We struggled with this last year. My toddler wanted to pick every green tomato on the vine. And cucumbers weren’t quite big enough. Now I know if there’s something to be picked, I’ll get him first and point it out so he can pick them. (Also have a bucket for them to put all of the vegetables in. You may end up with squished vegetables if you don’t do this.)
5. Keep it fun. My boy will help water for a few minutes, but the garden needs more than 5 minutes of watering. He’ll give it up and I use that opportunity to spray him with the water hose. He loves being sprayed, the watering gets done, and he’s happy the next time I ask him if he wants to water the garden.
I actually have started working on vegetables for the fall. I’m hoping I can keep the momentum up with the garden, and keep my boy involved. His interest is definitely in the water, but picking the vegetables is always a fun “chore” for him!
Do you have a garden? Does your child(ren) help out with the garden?