A great way to eat local, save money, and reap the health benefits of fresh produce, is to plant a home garden this spring and summer.
Involving our kids in the process is also a proven way to increase their intake of fruits and vegetables. A fun and easy alternative for the kids is to plant a container garden. Container gardens are a fun way to connect kids to where their food comes, and when kids eat what they grow, it can be a great experience for the whole family.
If you are limited on space, barrels, buckets and wheelbarrows can serve as containers. Clay pots can be used for plants that don’t need much soil. The size of the container should match the depth and amount of soil needed for each of the plants. Check out the back of the seed packets for helpful hints when choosing your space. Be sure that the container has adequate drainage. If the container doesn’t have holes, make your own (only half-inch wide) near the bottom to allow the water to drain. Holes help keep the plants from rotting. When your kids water the containers, have a saucer underneath to catch any of the extra water.
Seed packets will tell you when the best time is to plant the crops, and once the seedlings are started inside, transfer them to the outdoor containers when appropriate. When grown in containers, plants need food in the form of commercial fertilizer or compost materials. Container plants also need water often.
Finally, let your kids pick the crops they’d like to plant! Encourage colorful gardens – snap peas, sweet cherry tomatoes, yellow peppers and spinach. Gardening benefits kids’ health and well-being and gives them a sense of pride when watching their choices of seeds grow into healthful, fresh foods!