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Gardening With Kids A Win-Win Opportunity

Planting a garden provides an opportunity for you and your child to enjoy doing an ongoing activity together. Find out hot make gardening easy, efficient and successful.
Gardening With Kids A Win-Win Opportunity

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- Ardith Brunt, Ph.D., L.R.D., Associate Professor Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences, NDSU

Do you want to spend some good-quality time with your children?

Do you want your child to eat more vegetables?

If you answer yes to both of these questions, you should consider planting a garden. Children and adults love watching plants grow and finally produce a crop. This provides an opportunity for you and your child to enjoy doing an  ongoing activity together. This  activity doesn’t take too much time, either, because checking plant/crop progress is  easy for you and your child. Vegetables grown and eaten fresh from the garden just taste SO much better.

Small  gardens need not take much time or space. A flower bed-sized garden can produce many crops. You won’t need too many veggies to start. Perhaps a small 12- by 12-inch bed each for radishes, lettuce and carrots may be big  enough for you.

Be sure not to  plant too many seeds in that small space. As the plants grow, they need adequate space to produce a crop. If seeds  are planted too close together, they will produce a lot of foliage with very little vegetable.

Depending on the soil  temperature, seeds usually need about 10 days to germinate before leaves start to appear. So be patient. Adding one tomato plant in the corner of your garden will allow your vegetable production to last throughout the summer. And finally, if you don’t mind a vine plant, consider planting cucumber seeds.

If this looks like a bit more than you want to  try, consider planting a cherry tomato plant in a big flower pot. Children love to help here too Set the pot on the patio or close to the front door. That way, checking the progress of your plant will be easy for you.

Since pots are small, watering and weeding are quick. In August, you will have tasty cherry  tomatoes. If you want vegetables before August, then plant radishes or lettuce in other pots. Lettuce and radishes grow quickly and usually are ready to eat in June. Check the seed package for the number of days needed before  the vegetables are ready. Cucumbers also grow well in big pots.

But what does gardening have to do with children eating vegetables? Research shows that children who plant and care for a garden are more likely to eat the  vegetables grown in that garden. The more participation in growing and preparing vegetables, the more likely the  child will eat that food. In fact, some children raid the garden. Just be sure to have them rinse the vegetables in cold running water.

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