Seriously, after they become teenagers, you may as well forget it because they would much rather hang out with their friends or play video games than do any kind of gardening with mom. Grab their attention when they are preschoolers when they love playing in the dirt. Then once you get them hooked, they will love it forever. Especially once they see what they can grow. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing something you planted grow into something beautiful or tasty. If you have trouble getting your kids to eat their vegetables, try letting them grow their own. They will be so proud of it; they will want to eat it and share it with everyone too!
Make it Fun for Them
Pulling weeds and digging holes in the dirt are fun for most kids until they get to that pre-teen stage. If you can make gardening fun, they will get into it just as much as you do. Give them their own garden. Either make them a raised bed of their own or use borders to give them a section of the garden for them only. Take them to the store and let them pick out what they want to grow or let them pick from a gardening book or online garden website. Then have them make the trenches for the seeds or seedlings. It is better to use seeds so they can be amazed at how they grew something from a seed. Be sure to have them water it every day and keep checking on it. Also give them their own child-sized gardening tools like a hand trowel, shovel, and hoe. Let them make their own garden signs out of popsicle sticks and paper you can laminate so they know what they planted where. If they are not old enough to spell, let them draw a picture instead.
Make a Pizza Garden
If you tell your kids that they can make a pizza garden, they will love that idea! Who doesn’t like pizza? The best way to do this is to make a circle. Have one child stand in the middle holding a stick with three feet of string on it. Give the other end to another child and have them pull it taut and mark the outline with sticks, bricks, or some other border. Keep the stick in the middle and mark off “slices” for each herb and vegetable. Use borders like sticks or even 2x4s. Then choose your plants. You can choose your own, but my favorites are different kinds of tomatoes, bell peppers, banana peppers, onions, basil, and oregano. You can use seeds here too, but I like seedlings for this type of thing. Once the kids start seeing the veggies grow, they will be so excited to make pizza you may never get them out of the garden!
Other Veggies to Grow
How about a salad to go with that pizza? Get the kids even more excited by letting them grow lettuce, spinach, and other greens as well as cucumbers. Even if it doesn’t go on or with a pizza, there are other vegetables you can grow that are delicious. How about some potatoes? And it is pretty easy to grow zucchini, radishes, peas, beets, carrots, broccoli, and green beans. You can also grow other kinds of beans like black beans, pinto beans, navy beans, kidney beans, and great northern beans. Even if your kid says they don’t like vegetables, they are probably going to want to try the ones they grow themselves. If you have a big yard, try growing some corn. Everyone likes corn on the cob, right?
How About Some Fruits?
No matter how old your kids are, everyone has a favorite fruit. Whether they like strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, or even watermelon, cantaloupes, and grapes, you can grow them all. You can even plant an apple, plum, cherry, pear, or peach tree, but that is best done in the fall. Unfortunately, we cannot grow bananas here, but if you live in the tropics, go for it. And you can grow oranges, grapefruit, lemons, and limes in warmer climates like Florida, California, Arizona, and Texas.
Sunflowers are super easy to grow and some of them can get up to 12 feet tall with a flower as big as a dinner plate or bigger. With some types of sunflowers, you can even eat the seeds. Some of the best for seed-eating are the royal, super snack, mammoth grey stripe, mammoth Russian, titan, Hopi black dye, Paul Bunyan, and sunzilla. No matter which ones you choose, you will need to keep the critters away from them. Some of the main ones that will steal your seeds or seedlings are the squirrels, birds, and deer. Try putting fencing around them and even over them to keep the birds out. Squirrels are pretty sneaky and seem to get into whatever you put up. But they don’t like snakes so put some rubber snakes in your garden to keep them away. Send us some pictures of your gardens after you get them going. And, as always, you can add any suggestions or other comments below.