Q: I would like to start a garden with my children, but I feel overwhelmed! How do I start?
A: Did you know that many children think that green beans come from a can? Or peanuts grow on trees? A garden is a great way to help children learn about the growing process and develop an appreciation for where food comes from. Many schools are even seeing the merits of connecting gardening with their curriculum!
When planning your garden, begin small- too large and you will be overwhelmed!
Even a small garden can have a big impact on your family life. You can think of a large pot or container as a beginning garden. Or build a raised bed. It does not have to be fancy. You just need something to hold healthy soil (top soil and compost).
Once you have your soil vessel figured out and situated in a sunny spot, you are ready to plant. Plant something your family likes. Radishes are speedy growers, but if no one likes radishes then they may not be worth growing. (We eat a lot of kale so we plant a lot of kale in our garden.) Beans and peas are usually a successful place to start. They can be started from seeds, are fast growers, and usually liked by children. (There is a reason many elementary classes grow beans. High success rate!) Some beans and peas require something on which they can climb. Check the planting directions before you purchase the seeds. Potatoes are also easy to grow and harvesting potatoes is very fun. Ask your local garden center what is in season to plant.
Think of your first garden season as a test run. It isn’t your family’s only source of food- you are just testing to see if growing food is something your family can get excited about. (I hope it is!) Take a family trip to a local community garden to seek inspiration! Next season you may choose to expand your garden or join a community garden. You may want to plant a new food to try!
I am lucky enough to live in a part of the world that allows me to have a food-producing garden year round. I started with a small raised bed and I now have many raised beds and containers. I like working in the garden and growing healthy food for my family to eat. But, I really enjoy knowing that my children know where their food comes from- plants- not cans!