Written by Rachel Landmark under the direction and review of Megan Erickson.
Calling all gardeners – new comers, “green thumbs” and experienced. It’s summer! If you and your family have been thinking about starting a garden, now is the perfect time to do so. Gardening is a fun activity to get involved in something rewarding – you’ll not only be growing food, you’ll be growing as a family. Gardening is a fun way to incorporate physical activity into your day, and is a great way to connect kids to where their food comes from.
New to gardening? Container gardening may be just for you. Container gardening allows you to hone in your skills with as little as one plant. It’s as simple as purchasing gardening pots, seeds, and potting soil. You could also buy starter plants, or seeds that have been planted for you, and are already starting to grow. This type of gardening also works great if you don’t have access to much yard space. Try it on your patio, balcony, or windowsill.
For those who have yard space to spare, there’s always the option to till up a section for your garden. Then it will be time to get in the dirt and plant whatever your heart desires! This type of gardening is a bit more labor-intensive, but the rewards from the array of plants are tremendous. Melons and gourds are great for growing in this type of garden.
A modification of the traditional garden is a raised garden. It’s the best of both worlds! The garden bed is high enough off the ground to keep away from critters, and it’s easier on the joints. A raised garden is a frame made out of wood that has a bed to pour potting soil and plant the seeds. This type of garden is ideal for seniors who have limited mobility.
Get kids involved. Ask them what fruits and vegetables they would like to grow. Let them select, plant, harvest and even cook the produce. Kids as young as two can dig a hole or plant some seeds. Let them help count the seeds. Kids can even help water the seeds or pick out those pesky weeds. When it comes to harvest time, how fun for kids to yank a carrot out of the ground that they planted! Kids will be fascinated by the growing process and more apt to try new fruits and vegetables.
What should I plant?
To learn more on what to start planting, contact a Master Gardener at an SDSU Extension location near you! While there may be some challenges faced when gardening, it is a worthwhile experience. The rewards are not only the fruits (and vegetables) of your labor, you can grow as a family too. If you’re worried about your family spending too much time indoors on their technology, gardening is a perfect way to learn a lifelong hobby. With your experiences, others might be motivated to follow suit and have their own gardens as well! With the spread of knowledge comes a happier and healthier community.
- Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics. Kids in the Garden: Nutritious and Fun.
- iGrow. Gardening.
- University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Youth Gardening Activities.