Grow their little green thumbs
I don’t have a green thumb. Not even a very very light shade of green. Sometimes I joke that plants throw themselves off of the shelves when they see me coming. The truth is, I’m just not very good at growing plants, or even keeping them alive.
My husband – he makes magic happen in the garden. We’ve had rooftop urban wastelands full of veggies and flowers. We’ve had endless planters full of herbs, berries and cherry tomatoes. Every summer my younger son makes a valiant effort to eat all of the cherry tomatoes straight off of the plant, and he can almost keep up!
But me? I just assumed that vegetables came from the grocery store until I met him.
He doesn’t really understand it, and wants me to try – for the sake of the kids not being plant murderers too, I guess. So when we heard from best-selling, award-winning author of The Year Round Vegetable Gardener and Groundbreaking Food Gardens, Niki Jabbour, it seemed like a good idea to get some insight on how to include the kids in the garden. There are so many ways to get them involved and teach them some skills.
There are little ways to start – try a couple of herbs or low commitment plants. Try planters, which are not big and overwhelming. It’s a fun and productive way to spend time together outside, in the fresh air, and it’s also very gratifying. There’s nothing as satisfying as eating something you’ve grown (so I hear lol) and your kids will get some serious satisfaction out of it.
Niki shared with us her top tips and some great new tools from Lee Valley to get the whole family in on the fun of growing their own food.
1. Make it easy
Get kids involved in the garden by selecting easy-to-grow vegetables such as beans, radishes, leaf lettuce, cherry tomatoes and peas. These fast growing and kid-friendly favourites offer quick results for impatient gardeners who want to enjoy their homegrown harvest sooner rather than later.
2. Pick the perfect planter
Gardening in containers and planters is an easy way to grow space-saving vegetables and herbs like salad greens, bush beans and basil. You can use plastic, fabric, or self-watering pots, or try a Vegepod. This sturdy container offers 9 cubic feed of growing space, as well as built-in irrigation and protection from frost and pests.
3. Grow your own pizza
Get kids (and adults, for that matter), excited about growing their own food with a fun theme like a pizza garden. Plant cherry tomatoes, oregano, scallions, peppers, and basil in containers or garden beds, and use your harvest to top homemade pizzas. Yum!
(Apparently you can’t plant pepperoni.)
(I know. My husband doesn’t always find me funny either.)
4. Set your seedlings up for success
Starting your own seeds indoors gives you a jump on the growing season and allows you to grow high quality, sturdy seedlings. The Grow-Light Indoor Mini-Garden is very easy to use and doesn’t take up much space. In fact, it’s ideal for a countertop, shelf or small table. Once your seedlings are ready for the garden, tuck them into a season extender to shelter them from frost and cold weather.
5.Work smarter, not harder
Make spring cleaning a snap with a multi-tasking tool like the Power Rake, which quickly gathers leaves and grass clippings, and makes fast work of spreading compost or mulch. Plus, it’s designed to glide across the ground putting less strain on your back. Container gardeners will appreciate the Mini Shovel, a compact tool with a short handle and sturdy blade ideal for filling pots, transplanting or working in the perennial garden.
Niki Jabbour is the best-selling and award-winning author of The Year Round Vegetable Gardener and Groundbreaking Food Gardens, with over 100,000 copies sold. She’s also an award-winning radio host. Her next book, Niki Jabbour’s Veggie Garden Remix will arrive in stores in late 2017.