As a homesteading family one thing that is near and dear to my heart is gardening with my kids. In fact I consider it to be one of the top life skills that I want my children to know along with balancing a checkbook, doing their own laundry and of course knowing how to cook.
It’s not always an easy task to garden with kids but I know that you will find the benefits outweigh any challenges you may find along the way.
So let’s dive into the importance of the family garden and what it can do for your family.
Gardening Time is Quality Family Time
You should have noticed in that last sentence that I mentioned the importance of family gardening. This isn’t meant to be a mom and dad do everything and the kids drop in and watch from time to time.
In our household our garden planning is where the journey begins. The kids help us decide what to plant for the coming year. Last year this meant spicing things up with rainbow carrots instead of our typical tendersweet.
The kids were so excited to plant and harvest these carrots. The looks on their faces said it all really. Pure joy at having purple, yellow and orange carrots instead of the standard orange everywhere. Not to mention how much more exciting they are to peel and eat.
Get your kids involved right from the get go. Let them pick some of the plants they want to have in the garden. This will excite them as you begin planting.
It’s important to have them join you for every step of the journey possible because you are doing so much more than just gardening. You are creating connections.
The Importance of the Family Garden
Gardening can have so many health benefits that you really want to make sure your kids are joining you. Not only is it great for their bodies but they will get so much more than fresh air and some additional vitamin D from being in the sunshine.
We’ve already covered the great fresh air and sunshine but there are so many more health benefits to be enjoyed.
Studies have shown that gardening helps to decrease depression, anxiety and overall improves your mental health and mood. I often wonder if part of this is due to what is now called “Earthing” which is essentially when your body takes on the energy of the earth itself. It changes your energy in a positive and calming way.
Another great part about having your kids join you in the garden is that they will develop a curiosity about the foods they are growing. Oftentimes we have found that this leads to them trying new foods whether it be raw, cooked or mixed up in something else.
My boys have developed vast taste bud palettes because of their time spent with me in the garden. Who would have thought that zucchini and okra would quickly become favorites of a four year old?
It just goes to show you that you need to give them a chance to taste the food…they just might surprise you.
The Importance of the Family Garden for Connection and Stability
When our family gardens it’s a quiet time with nature for the most part. Every now and then I’ll turn on some music so we can all sing and even dance as we pull weeds.
This intentional quiet time has allowed me to have some really deep conversations with my children about their lives, dreams, and anything that is weighing on their mind. It serves as a great way to keep an open line of communication with them on a regular basis.
Studies have shown that having a strong connection to an adult helps to keep your child more stable and provides them with stability as they grow. If you start the practice of gardening together and your children understand that you are readily available to them and always listening while you work early on they will know this is a great place and time to come to you in their teenage years.
I’ve often heard people say “I can’t garden because I don’t have the space.” I’m here to tell you that that logic is completely wrong.
My little sister grew peas and tomatoes in planters on her porch while in college, my sister in law added raised beds to her front yard in the twin cities and I know a handful of people who have grown potatoes in 5 gallon buckets.
Where there is a will, there is a way.
So, let’s find your way!
When it comes to gardening you have two solid options to choose from. You can either grow plants indoors or outdoors but either way you will have some great food.
Indoor gardening is a part of our regular gardening process. Our family lives in Minnesota so we start plants indoors about six weeks before our last expected frost date, which is May 15th. The plants we start include tomatoes, peppers, herbs for our herb garden, sweet potatoes and luffa.
Basically anything that won’t have enough time to grow to complete fruition between May 15-October 15. Be sure to learn when your last and first expected frost dates are for your area.
You can also grow wonderful things like microgreens and peas. Our kids love to grow peas and then eat the entire plant stalk instead of waiting for the peas. They are just as sweet as the pea and great in salads or as a fresh snack.
Of course our biggest gardening space is the great outdoors. We have over a dozen raised garden beds and have been adding a few more every year as the kids continue to grow…and eat more 😉
When you start gardening with your kids, especially if they are little, I want to encourage you to take the time to give them their own gardening space.
This makes them feel empowered and they get to tend that space. It’s a great life lesson on why their plants live or in some cases die. It also teaches them about responsibility as they continue to regularly care for their garden space.
When it comes to outdoor gardening the sky’s the limit!
You can grow in planters, raised beds, the landscaping around your home (that’s where I have my herb garden), or right in the ground as our ancestors used to do.
We personally go for a mix of these types of planting locations. As we continue to expand we try new things.
Don’t be afraid to try a few different types of gardening out. Your family will find their own unique style as they continue gardening year after year.
Share Your Gardening Bounty
One of our favorite parts of gardening as a family is being able to share our bounty with others. While we do sell many of our surplus items at our small farm stand we also give many things away to friends and neighbors who don’t have the time to garden.
One person we love sharing our goodies with is my husband’s grandmother. She supports us so much with all of our dreams. Which is very unique and awesome. Plus she has a wealth of knowledge to share with us! Being able to provide her with fresh tomatoes, garlic, onions and any other garden goodies she asks us for is pure joy!
Don’t be afraid to share any extras that your family grows. Fresh produce make a lovely surprise for those you care about.
If you can’t think of anyone to give your surplus to, consider finding a local food bank where you could donate – what a great act of stewardship and service to teach your children.
Gardening as a Family Event
Ultimately I want to encourage you to make gardening a family event. If you take the time and really show your children the importance of the family garden they will most likely do the same with their own children.
If you feel that you are ready to dive in and garden with your family then be sure to check out our e-course Gardening for Kids right now for only $27. In the course you will receive video tutorials as well as a printable PDF that walks you through the entire process of planting, growing and harvesting your very own garden with your children by your side.
It’s also important to know that this is a lifetime access purchase. Once you have it, it’s yours forever. Our family is always looking to add more items to the course, which currently has eight different plants. When your family purchases Gardening for Kids you get all those updates included in your lifetime package.
Once your children have developed a love of gardening by your side you will then be able to start having some fun in the kitchen learning how to preserve that amazing harvest.
Now get out there and get planting. Be sure to let your kids join you so they understand teh importance of the family garden too.