The Children’s vegetable patch

For the spring school holidays, nothing beats introducing your children to the world of gardening. This will make them more sensitive to the environment and to the food they eat.

When nothing inspiring is on TV, invite your kids to discover nature’s mysteries, simply by growing a few easy veggies!

Teach them to learn patience and excite their curiosity as they gain insights on biodiversity!

Nature, an open book to read

gardening childA vegetable patch is more than just a way to produce vegetables, it’s also a amazing living laboratory for all kinds of fun experiments: growing plants from sowing to harvest, influence of seasons, observing local flora and fauna, impact of the weather

Your children will discover how important biodiversity is, with ladybugs, hedgehogs, birds, slugs… And they’ll also exercise the values that lead to success: curiosity, patience, autonomy, perseverance.

Additionally, observing nature will stimulate their desire to learn more and to protect their environment. It might even trigger a calling that will lead to their future job!

Transmitting the passion of gardening

boy holding organic lettuce outdoorsFor children to stick to the project, bring out your best team-leading skills. Together with the children, map out the future mini-garden. On checkered paper, draw each vegetable where it is to grow: they can color them out. Read out sowing and harvest dates on seed packets.

Start easy in year one, with only five vegetables (radishes, cherry tomatoes, carrots, etc. For the second year, double that number, or, alternately, add five types of beneficial flowers such as cosmos, French marigolds, honesties, violets, snapdragons…

For each activity to feel fun, offer them a size-adjusted set of sturdy tools. A beginner’s set would include a small watering can with shower dispenser, a tiny spade, a hand hoe and a planter. The kit may be added to as needs arise. Since children will follow your lead and look up to you, teach them to use the tools and clean them up immediately after use. Remember not to nag or hustle, though: let them follow their own rhythm and they’ll grow to be autonomous.

If you haven’t much space, set up a wooden square about as large as a sandbox, which you can fill with soil mix. They can plant their flowers and mini-vegetables inside.

Calendar for the easiest vegetables to grow

Sowing                          Harvest

Pink radishes            April to Sept                  May to Oct

Lettuce                     mid-April to Sept         mid-May to Oct

Beans                          March to June                 May to Oct

Tomatoes                    April to May                  July to Sept

Peas                               April to May                  June to July

Carrots                       March to July                  May to Nov

Potatoes                      April to May                  June to July

Squash                        April to June                  Sept to Oct

Onions                       March to May               July to August

Corn                             April to May                August to Sept

Pierrick the organic gardener

Image credits: Raised Vegetable Patch Leroy Merlin

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