Want to know how I keep my children learning all summer long?  We plant a garden.

Not only do they learn science, math, weather patterns and botany (which is awesome!) They learn patience, perseverance, hard work and healthy eating habits.

I have been growing a garden with my husband for over 14 years. I now have five wonderful helpers in the garden and we look forward as a family every year to planting and caring for it. I am not an expert, but I have learned a few things along the way!

Plant things that are “different” and fun! We’ve planted kohlrabi, swiss chard, purple carrots, yellow beans, white mini pumpkins, purple onions, yellow pear tomatoes, golden potatoes, purple beans and yellow, orange and purple peppers. Kids love to grow things that are different than what they see in the store.

Plant “theme” gardens. Some examples:
Salsa garden: onions, peppers, roma tomatoes and cilantro

Camping garden (food we can cook in foil dinners): corn, potatoes, carrots, onions, beans and rosemary

Pizza or Spaghetti garden: large tomatoes, peppers and oregano

“Letter” gardenP: peas, peppers, potatoes, parsley or C: carrots, cucumbers and corn.

Salad garden: lettuces, peas, cucumbers, radishes, parsley + more

Plant things that grow fast and easy from seeds: I have had a lot of luck planting these from seeds: beans, corn, radishes, peas, pumpkins, cucumbers, giant sunflowers, onions, kohlrabi and swiss chard.

Plants I usually buy: tomatoes, zucchini, squash, peppers and potatoes.

Some other things I do:
• I take a picture of the garden boxes each week so we can compare how the plants have grown.
• Each child is responsible for watering/weeding a certain part of the garden.
• I grow fresh herbs and often ask a child to go cut some off while I am making dinner.  (they love this job!!)
• EVERY dinner we try to have some sort of garden vegetable on the table.

Gardening with children is so valuable. It teaches them so many things. I remember one year birds came and ate all of our pea plants. The children “built” a net to cover the new ones we planted. They were so excited that it worked! 
Another year was a little sad. Our corn was about 3 feet high and a huge windstorm knocked it all over! We couldn’t salvage it, and the children learned about loss. 

In recent years my children have been entering the produce they grow in our local fair. I noticed there weren’t a lot of entries (unlike the artwork which has tons of entries) and they’ve all won ribbons and money prizes! One year my son had the largest sunflower head and there’s nothing like your five year old winning a blue ribbon for her purple beans! We’ve also been able to share a lot of our garden with neighbors which is good for children to learn service.

I hope this post has encouraged you to try gardening with your kids. It really is a wonderful experience and not as hard as you may think!

Bethy Krocker
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