Just like you don’t have to run a marathon to call yourself a runner, you don’t have to plant a huge garden to call yourself a gardener! Whether it’s planting a few herbs in your windowsill, a small container garden on your back porch, or maybe even a small plot in your backyard, creating a connection to where your food comes from can help your kids understand the value of nature and may even get them trying some new veggies (a mom can hope, right?). Growing your own veggies is also a great way to trim your grocery budget and, let’s face it, who isn’t looking for ways to do that?
A few tips if you’re a novice gardener:
- Make sure you choose a nice, sunny spot in your home or yard. If you don’t have much sun, just make sure you chose plants that can also thrive in the shade. Most seed packets or veggie starts will indicate where they are best suited.
- Start small! If you’ve never had a garden before, visit your local garden center and pick a couple of plants or seed packets to begin with. You can always add more plants later.
- Make sure you are starting with good soil. Dig up and loosen the soil, add compost and rake it smooth before planting the seeds. (I highly recommend using organic fertilizers and soil if you are planning on eating what you plant.)
- If you don’t have a spot in your yard, plant a couple of containers. Tomatoes, lettuce and beets are just a couple of veggies that do well in small spaces. Herbs like chives, basil and parsley grow well in windowsills. This site has some great recommendations on vegetables that do well in containers.
- Get your kids in on the action! A gardening study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that 98% of the children studied enjoyed tasting new fruits and vegetables, 96% enjoyed working in the garden, and 91% enjoyed learning about fruits and vegetables through a gardening project. The study also found that gardening significantly increased the number of new fruits and vegetables children tried. Amazing!
A few links that you may find helpful as you get your garden growing:
The Oregon State Extension Service – Great tips, calendars and guides for planting in the Pacific Northwest.
The National Gardening Association – A good all-around resource for how-to’s and buying guides.
You can count on making a few mistakes and losing a few plants. Don’t let that get in your way. Just relax, get your hands in the dirt and have some fun. Be sure to keep us updated with pictures of you and your kids in your growing gardens!