With summer’s end approaching, now is a great time for families to get outside together for some fall gardening fun. Gardening is a great way for families to build positive relationships, use nature to nurture by getting outdoors, and create educational moments. Read on for tips to create your own family-friendly garden.
• Design kid-based gardens
Let kids help generate the ideas for what to plant, and help with construction, planting, and maintenance. Parents and caregivers can show how, but they shouldn’t do everything. Focus on the process of involving kids, and they will find pride in ownership.
• Eat what you grow
Children are much more willing to try fresh fruits and vegetables they have grown. In fact, they’ll probably try things they never have eaten before if they’ve tended the plants through harvest. Learn more tips through kids’ nutrition resources like the There’s a Rainbow on My Plate and yummy recipes from The Edible Schoolyard Project.
• Grow what’s in season
Many plants grow strong throughout the fall. Cool-season vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts produce their best flavor when they mature during cool weather. Veggies like arugula and spinach go from seed to salad in about a month. For color, opt for pansies, which flourish in colder temps, or hardy marigolds, asters, and zinnias (a favorite for butterflies).
• Provide the right tools
Give kids serious tools. Plastic child's gardening tools are worse than none at all; they break easily and frustrate the user. It can be hard to locate appropriately-sized tools for kids, but with some garden tools like a hoe or s spade, you can easily shorten the handle. Let them use your tools if need be (under adult supervision, of course) to highlight the importance of the work they are doing.
• Show off
Encourage kids to be proud of their hard work. When giving garden tours to friends, be sure to point out the children's beds. Take photos of their harvest and send it to the grandparents. The attention given to their work is the best motivator for children to stay involved with project.
For more information on building a fall garden appropriate for the climate and soil in Wake County, visit https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/growing-a-fall-vegetable-garden.