How to create a wonderful Kids Vegetable Garden
This week, we'll learn how to create a wonderful kids vegetable garden. Don't worry, green fingers are not required! The task sounds more daunting than it really is, and remember: we are looking more for a fun educational project that creates lots of learning and bonding moments, than that we are trying to become our own fruit and veg supplier.
5 Simple Steps To Growing Your Own Veggies
Since I'm a total beginner myself, and because I can fully understand you might want a bit more guidance, this post is a bit more elaborate than previous ones and contains lots of links to tutorials and instructions from more experienced gardeners (thank you Pinterest).
I have broken it down into 5 easy steps; here is your template to this week's challenge:
1. get your gardening tools ready
Although most kids are probably more than happy to get their hands dirty, you'd might want to purchase a few basic tools.
Think gloves, spades (I got some kids size ones from the dollar store), a rake and a watering can. Also consider buying some special soil for a veggie patch and some seedling starter trays.
You can also easily make your own seedling trays from toilet rolls, egg shells or newspaper.
2. pick your plot
Gardening gives you lots of opportunity to teach your kids some valuable life skills. Encourage responsibility by letting them choose their own area and stimulate their creativity by allowing them to decide on its shape (not all vegetable gardens are rectangular or square or horizontal even, how about this Bean Teepee?).
You will find suitable veggies for both sunny and shady spots, so work with whatever you have available. Pots and containers are also great options, that way you are incredibly flexible with location (think balcony and front porch), size and sunny/shady areas. I really like this DIY Strawberry Tower.
3. choose your veggies
Gardening will teach your kids patience, confidence and love for nature, and you can encourage that by choosing the right veggies to populate your new garden:
- For a high success rate, pick the easiest vegetables to grow (like sprouts, carrots and tomatoes) and vegetables that grow quickly (like pumpkin and radishes). *just click images below for more detailed lists and instructions.
- Contrary to popular belief, not all vegetables need full sun to thrive. Check below Garden Sunlight Guide and decide on your vegetables accordingly. Did your child choose a shady patch? You'll love this article from Healthy Green Savvy explaining that herbs, lettuces, spinach and kale do great in partial shade and that most plants will actually do better.
- Did you know that tomatoes hate cucumbers, but love carrots and basil? Companion planting is the science of planting crops together that have shown to have beneficial effects on one another (like pest control, pollination and faster growth). When planning your kids vegetable garden, you might want to have a quick look at which plants do well together and which combinations to avoid.
- As a completely alternative option, you could consider using your veggie patch as a sensory garden and choose plants with specific sensory qualities:
- Touch – kale, okra, tomatoes
- Taste – basil, strawberries, peas, rosemary, carrots, cherry tomatoes, watermelon
- Smell – sweet peas, mint, lemon balm, Jerusalem artichokes
- Sight – veggies with bright colours like pumpkin and tomatoes
- Sound – corn, bamboo and grasses rustle against each other when the wind blows.
If you have a little more time and you notice the kids are getting into it, you might want to download this Plan a Garden | Printable activity for kids for a quick garden planning session.
4. time to become a gardener
All the prepping is done, time to get outside and play. Prepare the soil and plant your seeds as per the instructions on the packet. We'll be planting our seeds in the seedling starter trays since it's still a little cold outside, depending on your climate you might want to plant straight into the garden. Once the seedlings have grown a couple of cm, they are strong enough to be moved outside.
TIP: I'll be adding a few small plants (not seeds), to shorten the timeline till ripe vegetables. This staggers and lengthens the total harvesting season, keeping the kids interested for longer.
5. harvest your delicious produce
This last step is the most rewarding of all. You have done the preparations and all the hard work, continued to water the seedlings, watched them grow. And now they are ready to be harvested and enjoyed.
[go out challenge] kids vegetable garden - results
I am super excited about this challenge. I have grown the occasional tomato before, but this time around it will be a real family project. Check back to follow our progress.
UPDATE #1: The seeds have been planted! We opted for peas, broad beans, lettuce, peppers and leek. Especially peas and broad beans are excellent for small hands to handle, the seeds are so large you only plant one seed in each individual space. We used chopsticks to create a small hole to drop the seed into before covering it with a thin layer of soil.
UPDATE #2: I can't believe it! It's only Day 5 and the broad beans have already sprouted and the lettuce seeds already have transformed into hundreds of tiny plants, this might be going somewhere!
UPDATE #3: This project continues to bring us joy. Check our broad beans on Day 16, they are proper little plants by now. We also thinned out the lettuce to allow the small seedlings to grow into mature crops. Can definitely recommend both lettuce and broad beans for your kids vegetable garden, very gratifying since they almost grow before your eyes. The peas and leeks only just started to sprout, while the pepper is still in hiding.
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Karin Louzado is a Dutch expat mum of two who helps parents navigate parenthood in this digital age. Join the 12 week screen-free challenge and learn how to simplify family time.