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Planting a Family Garden

This mild winter has got columnist Kellyanne Koemp thinking spring.

 

I walked my son to the bus stop this morning and heard a beautiful sound: birds chirping! Spring is on its way. My husband, now officially retired from the Navy and able to spend all of his time here, is busy planning our first vegetable garden. We are thinking spring in our house!

There are so many good reasons to get your kids involved in the planning stages of a garden. My two children are incredibly picky about veggies. Chris will eat them, if armed with a gallon of milk to wash down each mouthful, and only completes the process after a 20 minute struggle.

Paloma will look at her plate, and then look at us with her big blue eyes and say "oyster crackers please."

So I let my kids look through the seed catalogs and they let me know what they want to see on the dinner plate. Carrots were requested. For variety, I also ordered the multi-colored carrots. Fun colors make dinners more fun too. For fruit, the kids want to grow watermelon and cantaloupe.

You really don’t need a lot of room for a garden. Any size can help you supplement your family grocery bill.

Let’s face it -- having kids makes the grocery bill rise exponentially. The best strategy is to decide what you spend the most money on and grow that.

I tend to spend a good amount on herbs and tomatoes, so those are two items that we are focusing on. My dad always had a fantastic garden and I distinctly recall that the tomatoes right out of the garden were incredible!

Of course, supplanting the grocery bill isn’t the only reason to grow a garden.  Kids should learn where the food in the grocery store comes from and having a garden helps them learn that food doesn’t "just come from the store."

When we lived in a high-rise apartment in Washington D.C., we grew herbs, peppers, and other easy 'crops' so that Chris could watch food grow and help take care of them.

Although the yield wasn’t that great (a few tomatoes, a few strawberries), it was a great lesson for him. Don’t forget to grow things that keep the interest of your kids.

According to the eartheasy website, the top 10 fun crops to plant with your children are sunflowers, lettuce, radishes, snow peas, cherry tomatoes, bush beans, carrots, potatoes and pumpkins.

The website also recommends flowers known as nasturtiums. In addition to looking pretty, these are also edible. They also suggest giving your kids their own patch of earth to tend.

Old sandboxes can be a good option if all your children have outgrown it. Some other great links are My First Garden and Kindergarden.

Each site has wonderful teaching resources for parents to cultivate a love for gardening in their children.

Chris is old enough to actually help Ray with planting the seeds and they are starting to do so in the basement. Together, they will put potting soil in small Dixie cups with holes in the bottom and watch the seedlings grow.

Hopefully taking this kind of ownership in the vegetable process will cause Chris to want to eat the fruits of his labor. I guess only time will tell!

L February 15, 2012 at 03:22 PM
We are also planning our first "real" garden since we just bought our first home in Southbury back in August. I have lofty plans for about a dozen raised beds and started planning a few months back. You might want to check out the website: theprudenthomemaker.com for edible garden ideas. Her garden is drool-worthy! :)
Jaimie Cura February 15, 2012 at 05:49 PM
That website is awesome - what beautiful pictures! I suspect I'm going to get a lot of ideas for my Frugal Friday articles from this site!
Kellyanne Koemp February 15, 2012 at 06:00 PM
Thanks "L" I checked it out, I LOVE that site! I love the recipe section too since I'll be needing to use the harvest! :)

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