Growing a kids snacking garden is a great way to teach children about growing and loving vegetables, fruits and herbs. Gardening with children teaches them responsibility, life skills, and a love for vegetables early on!
Once upon a time, my husband told my girls to stop eating spinach. Yes, you read that right. "Girls," he said "Stop eating all the spinach from the garden!"
I look at him and literally blurted out "Are you kidding me?!" amidst loud guffaws.
Why Gardening with Kids is Important
Raising children who love to eat vegetables seems like a daunting task, right? But what if it wasn't so daunting? What if you were telling your children to STOP eating vegetables because they had literally eaten bowls full of cherry tomatoes in their treehouse, handfuls of spinach by the swings, and instead of asking for popsicles and chips they were sneaking just one more baby cucumber out of the garden beds?
An edible snacking garden is my favorite way to get kids be more adventurous eaters without even realizing it! It is kind of sneaky, but not like hiding pureed vegetables into meatballs sneaky.
Not only will gardening help your children learn to love vegetables, but it will also help them learn care for other things, to have a sense of responsibility, and science. Valuable life skills and family time happen in the garden!
I love watching my girls pick fresh veggies straight from the garden and pop them straight in their mouth! And soon you can choose to tell your kids to stop eating vegetables, too! Or... not.
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How To Build A Snacking Garden
- Start by deciding where you want your garden and how big you want it to be. You need a spot with plenty of sunshine.
- Decide if you want to plant in the ground, to build a small bed, a medium sized raised bed, or to use containers. It all depends on the space you have available! I suggest starting small, and then slowly increasing what you do.
- Decide if you want to start seeds or to grow seedlings. I think its fun to do a combination of both - for example, tomatoes, zucchini, and other vegetable with smaller seeds are great to start from seedling - unless you really want 50 cherry tomato plants. Peas, beans, and cucumbers all have larger sized seeds which are fun for little fingers to plant.
How To Start A Garden With Your Kids
Get your kids involved in every step of the process!
- Have them help you pick out which vegetables to grow
- Get them to help you plant everything.
- Every day have them help you water, weed, and check on the plants.
- Teach them how to harvest your bounty
Remember, the idea here is not to have a perfect garden. The idea is to have fun! So relax and have fun getting dirty with your kiddos!
Give them their own space - Allow the kids to dig, water, experiment, play with worms, and generally get dirty. Don't worry, its good for them!
Kids Gardening Tools
Give them their own kids gardening tools that fit their size.
We really like this great gardening tool set and this great handheld garden tool set as well. Having tools that fit their hands and that they can feel comfortable using will go a long way to helping them want to be involved!
What can I plant with kids?
Plant easy to care for items that tend to be prolific. The idea here is not to grow enough of any one item for any kind of a sizable harvest, but instead to encourage your children to snack on what you are growing instead of asking for candy or chips.
These items are our favorites to grow, because they are easy and usually produce a lot of bounty!
- Baby Cucumbers
- Cherry Tomatoes
- French Beans
- Sugar Snap Peas
- Salad Greens
Gardening with Kids
When your garden is growing nice and big, its time to harvest!
Now, the point of a snacking garden is to - you know, snack!
Make sure you show your children the correct way to harvest each type of food you are growing so they don't damage the plants, and show there where and how to wash them before sacking.
But sometimes no matter how much snacking you do, you have a plethora of produce! One year we had the most ridiculously bountiful cherry tomato plant and literally could not eat them all! Have your kids get into the kitchen with you and create simple recipes they will enjoy with their hard work (read more about how to cook and bake with your children).
Try these fun activities for gardening with children, too!
- These Easy Beaded Garden Stakes are a cute and beautiful way to add color to your garden.
- We make one of these fun DIY Stepping Stones every summer.
- These cute Fairy Rocks will be a fun addition for your little ones to make and continually move around all summer.