Kids are naturally curious and want to try new things, a garden is no exception. Do you have trouble getting your kids to eat their vegetables at dinner? Kids who grow their vegetables are much more likely to eat them. A garden is a wonderful way to teach children how their food grows and get them excited about eating healthier. The key to getting their attention and keeping it is to make the garden fun! I’ve provided links for lots of ideas, crafts and projects for kids and adults to enjoy with their gardens.
How To Get Children to Like Vegetables – Grow Them!
Let’s admit it, kids have a very short attention span. Plants that have a shorter growing season are a good choice for a children’s garden. Our Victory Garden includes a Children’s Garden that features plants and plans to foster children’s imagination, delight their senses and tickle their taste buds. Here is a link to our Victory Garden plans. Scroll down a little on this page and you should see a button that reads VIEW PLAN FULL SIZED. A new page will come up (here’s a direct link), click on the picture on that page it will enlarge the garden plan so you can really see everything in detail.
Five Great Plants to Grow with Kids
Tomatoes – small cherry sized
Everyone loves instant gratification and kids are no exception. A garden isn’t exactly INSTANT, but by choosing quick growing vegetables like leaf lettuce, the kids can taste the fruits of their labor sooner, rather than later. Leaf lettuce varieties mature faster and can be eaten in approximately 45 days, instead of 65 days that it takes for the head lettuces to mature or 120 days for other vegetables.
The kids love to find something in their garden to munch on whenever they visit the garden. Kids are always hungry, so planning a variety of vegetables and fruits they can harvest throughout the season is a good idea. Pick an everbearing strawberry variety which bears fruit all season long is a good choice. This gives the kids something to nibble on starting in June.
Why not include some small cherry sized tomatoes in the children’s garden? This year I planted four Sun Cherry tomato plants in my garden and they have produced a ton of the sweetest golden tomatoes that the kids love, they eat them like candy! I brought some from my garden to our church to share and the kids (and the adults) gobbled them up. You’ll be seeing these in our Victory Garden next spring.
Gardens Can Be Fun and Functional
Creating structures to support the plants as they grow can be entertaining for the children too. Our garden plans include two tepee structures, one for pole beans and another one for cucumbers. These climbing plants love to go vertical and the kids love to play in tepees. When the plants grow up the poles the vines of the plants will form a tepee “wall” and provide a secret place within their garden. I’ve included a link to a video on how to construct a tepee for the garden.
What kid doesn’t love sunflowers growing in the garden? The adults love them too. Giant sunflowers remind me of a big, bright, sunny, happy face, smiling at me every time I enter the garden. The big flowers are loved by the honeybees and the seeds that form are edible.
Sunflowers are extremely tall and require staking for support as they get larger. Consideration for their height should be taken into account regarding placement in the garden, so as not to cast shadows on other sun loving plants. Plants that appreciate a little shade from the hot sun of late summer will love growing below the sunflowers.
Ideas for Children’s Gardens
- Planting a garden that includes vegetables and fruits with a shorter maturation date or ever bearing varieties
- Start growing with both seeds and starts (young plants)
- Excite their senses – include scents like lavender and bright colors in the garden
- Include structures that are not only functional (supporting the vining plants) but fun for the kids to play in
- Edible flowers and herbs – great way to “spice up” a dish
- Themed gardens are fun!
Have fun with the garden and plan a garden that features a theme. What flavors go good together? I’ve put together an “Italian Garden” or “Pizza Garden” for the kids to enjoy in our Victory Garden. What kid doesn’t love pizza? Combinations of plants to make a pizza include: tomatoes, basil, pepper, and marigolds (look like cheese on the pizza). The marigolds are great companion plants for the other plants in this garden. I’ll be sharing more about companion plants in a future post, but for now let’s just suffice to say some plants get along together in a garden better than others…kind of like people.
Other themes to consider might be based on a beloved children’s story, like Peter Rabbit. This garden might include cabbages, carrots, radishes, and a little bunny. Have fun with it! I’ve included a link to other themed garden ideas for the children’s garden. This is a Kid’s Gardening website and includes lots of other activities for children and their garden projects, check it out! Here’s a whole collection of ideas for fun kid’s projects for the little gardeners. Let your imagination run wild and have fun!
This blog post was originally published on the blog of the First Baptist Church Of Bear Lake here. Thanks to Diane Lalomia for authoring it and allowing us to share it with you!!