header picture

Monday, July 21, 2008

Backyard Vegetable Garden

An essential part of teaching children about food is educating them about where food comes from. Visiting farms and U-pick farms is a terrific experience and an excellent opportunity to show them how food grows and where it comes from. Growing vegetables, fruits, and herbs in your own back and/or front yard makes a wonderful family project as well.

A “Vegetable garden” is very easy to create and a fantastic opportunity to give children a meaningful job and enhance their sense of responsibility. (Also a good opportunity to let them learn the consequences of taking good care of the garden versus what happens if you forget to water the plants.) You can sow the seeds in the soil and/or in pots, or buy new plants at the right season. If using pots, use organic garden soil.

Here are some ideas...

Throughout the year we grow herbs. Rosemary, thyme, and oregano survive the frost and snow. Lemon thyme and mint will disappear but will grow back next spring.
Basil doesn’t make it through winter. You will need to buy a new plant next summer.

I like to ask my son to go out and pick a few herbs for me when I cook dinner. In the summer, I like to use fresh herbs in vegetable salads (especially mint and lemon thyme) and in marinades. Rosemary, thyme, and oregano work wonderful with lamb and potato dishes. Mint is so refreshing and makes great tea and is wonderful in lemonade. I also use it in a yogurt sauce that accompanies grilled lamb (look in “recipes”).

Do you see that red one and a few pink ones? It's not a big crop, but my son is very happy to pick the fruit when it is ready to eat, and now he know that strawberries don't grow on trees ;-)

Again, not a big crop, but enough to make a kid happy.

Lemon verbena
Is another favorite herb. I use it to mainly to make tea and lemon verbena crème brulee, and add it to lemonade.
It disappears in winter and grows back at the beginning of summer.

These are edible flowers. I'm not sure we will actually eat them, but they are pretty and safe to put in your salad. (Recipe and photos will be posted soon).

And those are going to be... pumpkins.
I am a bit scared growing this gigantic vegetable in our own backyard, but the little guy really wanted to have his own pumpkins for next Halloween and Thanksgiving. I guess we won't go to the pumpkin patch this year... It is amazing how fast they grow (and will even survive a few days without watering).

Another easy vegetable to grow are tomatoes (they are actually a fruit). We had them last summer, but not this year.

If you have other ideas and/or want to share with other readers what you do in your own home vegetable garden, write a comment below, or send me an e-mail and I will post it.

Have fun!

Previous posts from me about this topic:
U-pick farms
Kids menu – Is it good for them? Is it good for you?
Stuffed peppers – a picky eater's nightmare?
Encourage good eating
NY Times: Picky Eaters? They Get It From You

No comments: