As a farmer and a blogger on Instagram, I am often asked by moms wanting to grow some of their own food where they should start. Starting a garden is an exciting prospect and I understand how it may seem daunting at first. With the right tools and resources though, gardening can be a fun, rewarding, and wholesome activity the entire family can get involved with.
Teaching our kids to garden (or even learning to garden along with them!) has loads of benefits. Being outside as a family and connecting with nature is super healthy for body and mind. Gardening can be an important tool to foster healthy eating habits and food relationships too. With a vegetable garden, learning opportunities abound: cause and effect, delayed gratification, the importance of healthy soil, where food comes from, etc. Of course one of the biggest (and arguably most satisfying) advantages is providing food for your family that you grew yourself.
Kids thrive with a little autonomy and growing food together is a perfect way to put all those strong wills and opinions to use. Let them help choose what food crops your family will plant this growing season. You might be surprised what they pick! Kids will often want to try growing a veggie that maybe they don’t necessarily love to eat – embrace that! Once they have a chance to “own it” by being involved with growing that veggie, they are much more likely to want to eat some. Here are some food crops that are easy to grow and kid-friendly:
- Cherry tomatoes
- Super Snap Peas
- Leaf Lettuce
- Parisian Carrots
- Mini cucumbers
- Fingerling Potatoes
Helpful Resources To Garden Successfully In Our Area
Hitting up Wichita farmers’ markets isn’t just a great way to support local businesses and purchase some awesome, nutrient-dense foods. Browsing the offerings week after week at the market can help you learn seasonality and what things grow well here. Many of us farmers even sell extra garden transplants and we’re always happy to chat about growing practices and give advice.
I love this publication from K-State Research & Extension (after all, I’m a Wildcat alum myself), BUT as an organic/regenerative farmer, I feel it’s important to offer this caveat: use chemical-free, organic gardening inputs (fertilizer, amendments, insect sprays, and so on) instead of the conventional recommendations this document (and many others from K-State) provide. Also, be sure to steer clear of applying herbicides anywhere near your garden.
How To Get Started
Choose The Right Location
If you’re brand new to gardening, you’ll first need to decide where you’re going to plant. No matter your situation, there is likely a method that will work for you, whether that’s in containers, raised beds, in-ground plots, or even a community garden space. Choosing an area with a minimum half-day full sun is essential for success. Containers and raised beds can be filled with organic potting soil or a mixture of compost and quality top soil. If you plan to garden in the ground, getting a soil test is an important first step in getting to know your existing soil, so you can make informed decisions on what amendments to add.
Don’t Overthink It
Growing food can be, for the most part, pretty easy. The hardest hurdle is often just jumping in and getting started. You can start as big or small as what feels right to you right now, even if that’s just tucking some herbs into your existing landscaping or planting a tomato in a large pot on the deck. There’s always time to expand later. Get the kids involved, get outside, get dirty, and have fun with it.