Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, our current book club selection, has convicted me that I want to pass on to my children, by the time they leave our household, a foundational knowledge of where food comes from.
They don’t have to be farm-ready, and they don’t even need to like gardening. But I want them to appreciate the process behind the food staring at them from the plate. And more importantly, I want them to know what real food is.
I’m a novice gardener, if you can even call it that. I’m learning, slowly. But I don’t want that to stop me from taking my children along for the ride as we learn together.
Simple ways to garden with kids
Even if you live in an apartment, you can still garden. No matter what plot size you have to work with, your family can do something. Here are a few ideas:
1. Start an herb garden.
These are great for kids because they’re virtually fool-proof, and they’re great for you because they provide abundant flavor for your family’s meals. They don’t take much – a bit of soil, lots of sunlight, and watering.
You can easily transplant starters from your local nursery, but you can also start from seeds and use the process as a learning experiment for your kids. Seeds are tiny, and it’s a great visual lesson at where our food begins.
This weekend, my daughter and I started some herb seeds using a simple toilet paper roll method I learned at You Grow Girl:
Once the herbs are ready for containers or beds, simply plop the whole toilet paper roll in the soil – it’ll break down naturally.
2. Give your kids containers.
My four-year-old daughter is in to all things pink, which means her favorite desserts usually have something to do with strawberries. So this summer, she’ll oversee a little galvanized bucket of strawberries – hopefully we’ll soon enjoy some good shortcake from her crop. Strawberries are hardy little guys, and most kids love them.
Another fun kid-friendly idea is a pizza planter. Pick a frugal, creative container and grow all in one bucket a tomato plant, oregano, basil, thyme peppers, and any other container-friendly pizza topping. Make homemade pizza every weekend, and your kids will enjoy heading to their own garden for the ingredients.
3. Try your hand at square-foot gardening.
We hope to try this next month, but Jason at Frugal Dad already wrote about his experience last spring. Basically, you create a simple raised bed, which can be placed either directly on the ground, or with a bottom layer to rest on balconies and porches. Divide up the soil in square foot sections, and grow a plant in each section – after harvesting, simply start a new plant.
Give each of your kids a square foot to oversee, and let them pick their plants.
For more inspiration, read up on these gardening sites:
How do you encourage making heatlhy food choices with your kids? Do you garden as a family? What are some other ways to instill a value of real food?