Gardening with Children

Marann Jones
Adam's County Master Gardener Program

As many would acknowledge, getting children to enjoy eating vegetables can often time prove to be a difficult task. Have you ever considered having a small vegetable garden with what you know is easy to grow?

To make cooking and eating with vegetables fun, I would encourage you to try growing some vegetables and best of all eating them. (If what you have grown is more than enough for your family - fruit & vegetables makes great gifts for family and friends - or even selling some of your produce.)

You will often hear people saying I began to enjoy gardening when my children grew up and left home. Or similar thoughts to that effect will be expressed in many different ways. But, I am here to tell you that it is quite alright for you to get out there and find the joy of gardening with your children - even right now this very year.

It is never too late to start.

You may want to use this time of the year to get seeds started indoors so as soon after the last frost is over you can get out there and begin to get into the garden and enjoy planting.

There is so much to learn when you began to garden with children. They won't be aware of it but as they have hands on learning - they are learning about botany and horticultural practices. They will learn about nature, how to prepare the soil, when to plant, where the plants come from, and they will observe how the plants grow.

They will also be learning about garden design as they design their own vegetable garden with each child growing what they would like in their individual garden beds. Perhaps, each one having a section to which they can maintain and grow what they would like to eat from the garden. This will make their love for eating vegetables highly favorable.

Without realizing it they will be learning about science, art and math. Now then, when you cook with vegetables they should have no trouble eating their vegetables because they saw what hard work it was in planting it and the joy is now to enjoy the fruit of their labor.

In the long run eating vegetables makes a healthy child and thus a healthy adult for the future. You will be able to find some great recipes for cooking with vegetables.

Helpful tips.

  1. Have you and your child/children, fully plan out your garden.
  2. Select what you both would like to plant.
  3. At first encourage plants that are not difficult to establish.
  4. Later, as they begin to enjoy the art of gardening, add on more.
  5. The next stage will be to enjoy what the Lord has given us.

As an aside, encourage a raised bed garden rather than an allotment style garden.

Here is a list of easy plants to grow at first:

  • Lettuce
  • Radishes
  • Cucumbers
  • Potatoes
  • Onions
  • Tomatoes
  • Asparagus
  • Peas

Later add in slowly any from the list below:

  • Collard greens
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbages (R&W)
  • Cauliflower
  • Pumpkin
  • Squash
  • Peppers
  • Watermelon
  • Eggplant
  • Okra
  • Parsnip (both top and bottoms)
  • Carrots
  • Beetroot
  • Corn

And the list could go on.

When some of those things have been implemented you can then move on to trying some great recipes. However, many vegetable recipes can still be enjoyed without a vegetable garden. A farmer's market or green grocer will do just fine.

One thing I must say, and it is this; I cannot express highly enough, how so very rewarding it is to grow your own vegetables. Not only is there a big saving on the household budget but the vegetables come to the table fresh from the garden, full of flavor and packed with health-giving vitamins and mineral salts.

Read other articles on growing herbs or vegetables