We’re all looking for a few good things to do during the summer holidays, and the fine weather is perfect for going outside and spending some time in the garden! Growing vegetables at home is quickly becoming a popular choice for many families all over the world, and with good reason!
According to My Gardening Network, vegetables grown has obvious benefits like ensuring the safety and freshness of the food you’re feeding your family. Even the flavor of vegetables grown at home can be radically different from those simply bought in a supermarket. “All vegetables lose flavor over time,” writes Mac Pike. “Sweet corn or sweet peas that have been trucked in from afar simply cannot compete in a taste test with those plucked from the home garden and served later that day.” Let’s not forget that growing your own vegetables can help you save up too, as you need little more than some seed and some time and energy to be able to bring a garden to life.
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Families with little children should also find themselves benefiting from growing their own vegetables. First of all, it helps them learn to be patient. Most kids don’t have a lot of patience, and they’re sure to grow a bit frustrated after the first few days of planting something and not seeing anything sprout. As Amy Gifford, an education associate for the National Gardening Association, tells Babble, however, gardening is a great way to teach them how being patient can be rewarding. “They learn about nurturing a life and what it takes to keep something alive,” she says, also emphasizing that children’s involvement in the garden could help them understand responsibility. As children take on regular tasks such as watering plots and pulling out weeds, they quickly learn how necessary their help is to keeping the garden alive.
Gifford also points out a more obvious benefit: teaching kids how plants grow. “One of the most important things about [vegetable] gardening is understanding where food comes from,” she says. Not only is this a good way to get them to appreciate the greens they’re so averse to eating, you’ll also see them well up with pride as you pull the crops out of the ground and explain that it’s thanks to their hard work that you get to eat such fresh food.
Getting children involved in the garden isn’t actually as hard as you might think, even with many children now obsessed with technology and modern media. As Sophy Lennon, a freelance garden designer, says in an interview with Tootsa MacGinty, “Children love looking, exploring and collecting. I-spy and nature spotting books can get them thinking about plants as well as insects and birds. Kew Gardens, The National Trust and RHS have a good selection of activities for children. When gardening with children, the main rule is; don’t be too precious, experiment and have fun. Keep a diary. If it doesn’t work out hypothesise why and try it another way. If you have space, a child might like his or her own border or a large pot to create a fairy or troll garden. Try sunflowers, calendula, poppy, coriander, chives, sweet basil, carrots and beans.” The BBC has also teamed up with the UK’s Royal Horticultural Society to come up with some activities for kids in the garden.
If you haven’t got a garden yet, or don’t think you have the space for one, don’t worry. You can still grow your own vegetables thanks to the growing popularity of kitchen gardens. Here are some general tips for starting your first garden:
1. Start small and pick a plant you can manage.
Don’t get too excited and buy a bunch of seeds you don’t know anything about! Make sure to do your research and try to find out just how much space a certain plant needs, how much water, and how much sunlight it should be getting. This should help you plan out your garden and your chores accordingly.
2. Set up ample room.
You don’t need a wide yard to be able to start gardening, but it’s important to find a location that matches the needs of the vegetables you want to plant. Not all plants need direct sunlight, but some will wilt and die if they don’t get enough. Make sure you also have solutions to drainage and that your plants won’t be too crowded.
3. Nip problems in the bud.
Try to think ahead to what problems you might face, including pests and insects foraging through your vegetables. Don’t get caught unawares and end up losing all your hard work to pests. Do your research and try to find the best pest solution for you and your family.
This summer, do your best to start a garden, or get your kids more involved in the one you already have! What are you waiting for? Get gardening!
About the Author:
Half a Parent got into gardening after she decided to go vegan, and she hasn’t looked back. Having grown up in the city, she used to think that gardening was too much of a hassle to undertake, and she’s now dedicated her life to helping others realize that they can never be too busy to garden! Watch out for her blog!