It’s not only Spring, it’s time to celebrate National Garden Month! Gardening with kids is fun and it also can nurture habits of exercise and healthy eating with lessons about soil (food for plants), and water. Using recycled containers and pots, both indoors or outdoors, are good ways to get started. You don’t need the greenest thumb to start. Growing plants are almost fool-proof if you have seeds or plants, healthy soil or compost, sunshine, and water. Follow the directions on seed packages or get help from the store where you purchase your plants. When gardening with kids, it is best to choose plants that are easy to grow, have a short growing season, and are fun to eat and harvest.
Here are four kid-friendly picks for your garden:
Sunflowers take up a lot of room so you only need one or two. Sunflowers will sprout in 1 week, and should be 2 feet tall in a month. In 8 weeks, the buds will flower, revealing hundreds of seeds. They will dry naturally in the late summer sun and the seeds, rich in protein and iron, can be roasted for snacks.
Lettuce will grow quickly and is a good way to interest kids in salads. Lettuce likes partial shade and the soil moist, especially during the first two weeks. The seeds will start growing in 7-10 days and you can pick leaves for a month.
Radishes are perfect because they will start growing in 3-10 days, and will be ready to eat in 20-30 days. Plant in cool weather for a mild radish, or hot weather for a hotter radish.
Snow peas are fun for kids to eat right off the vine. They take about 10 days to start growing and are ready to eat in about 60 days. Peas prefer cooler, partially shaded locations in the garden.
If you can’t plant a garden this year, you can still celebrate National Garden Month with a field trip to a garden or even host a taste testing. Remember to encourage washing hands and harvest to be safe. For more help with gardening, visit http://www.garden.org.
Today we welcome guest blogger, Donna DeCaille MS, RDN, LD, who is a pediatric dietitian and owner of a pediatric nutrition practice, Envision Nutrition Inc. To see more, visit her blog, Nibble On Something Healthy (N.O.S.H).