My husband, friends and I love our huge vegetable garden that we spend many hours tending to each summer. So it was only natural that my daughter has become involved in the garden as she has gotten bigger. Here are my top 5 reasons to start your own garden and get your kids involved!
1. Exercise: If anyone thinks that gardening doesn’t burn calories, I dare you to haul a few wheelbarrows of dirt and shovel it out! Gardening is that kind of exercise that you don’t really realize you are doing until you work up a sweat and can barely walk for the next two days. My daughter really enjoyed shoveling dirt while we got the garden prepped this spring for planting and as she gets older she will help more and more with weeding (I’m anxiously awaiting those days!)
2. Learning about nature: We love going out and looking at our garden to learn more about nature. Grace has found different kinds of worms, lady bugs, spiders and some other pests that we had to remove. She is learning what bugs are good for our garden and what bugs are not. She loves to go search for lady bugs.
3. It’s good for the earth: In case you have somehow missed the last few years of news, California is in a huge drought. They grow a lot of our food, make that most of our food. Not only that, but when you are purchasing food from somewhere else there are economic and ecological costs to get that food to you. Help mother nature by eating food from right outside your back door! This is a great opportunity to have discussions with your children about taking care of our planet.
4. Sensory Input: If you have ever spent a single minute on Pinterest, I am sure you have seen lots of ideas for “sensory activities”. It’s true- kids and adults alike really benefit from sensory activities. Gardening can hit all of your senses at once! You can smell the different plants, taste the herbs or the fruits, feel the prickly leaves of a squash or the dirt between your fingers, listen to the birds or bees around your garden. All of that sensory input means that you and your kiddo will likely come inside just a little bit more relaxed.
5. YOU GET FOOD! Hands down, the best reason to have vegetable garden is that you get to grow your own food! One of the best feelings is to walk outside and pick the literal fruits of your own labor and eat them for dinner. Your kids will be much more likely to at least TRY new fruits and vegetables if they have planted them, tended to them and watched them grow. Don’t get me wrong, I still can’t get Grace to eat a cucumber to save my life but she was pretty darn happy about picking green beans!
Now what do we do with all of those veggies?? Here is my kid friendly (and healthy!) garden fritter recipe!
For this recipe I used:
1 medium carrot*
1 medium summer squash (crookneck, straightneck, zucchini, etc) *
About 1 cup of panko bread crumbs
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp granulated garlic
1 tbsp parmesean cheese
*you can easily substitute these for other vegetables
Pre-heat oven to 375. Grate vegetables and squeeze out excess water. Add 1TBSP of panko and reserve remaining, add all other ingredients to bowl and mix.
Put remaining panko in a shallow bowl or dish. Form mixture into patties. Bread patties in panko and place on baking sheet.
Bake for 15-20 minutes. I like to switch to the broiler for just a minute or two at the end to get a nice brown crust on top.