With the promise of summer just around the corner, all we’re craving is lighter meals packed with spring’s greens. Salads, fresh pasta sauces and dishes loaded with vegetables are the best way to banish memories of winter and it's heavy food. But, as we all know, our own taste buds and those of our kids are rarely aligned.
Not only does gardening have the all-important fun factor, it also involves your kids in what’s put on their plate each night, so they’re far more likely to eat it. And every family can do it, no matter what size your backyard (or balcony) may be. These tips will get you on your way.
Make the most of your garden
Whether it’s a balcony, courtyard or green lawns as far as the eye can see, we’ve all got some sort of outdoor space that can be turned into a garden. Let your imagination run wild. Growing food in containers shouldn’t be a drawback. Urban gardening in pots and window boxes can yield more food than you might think, plus you get the benefits of some beautiful greenery outside your windows.
Choose your veggies
If you’re gardening with your kids, choose vegetables that grow quickly and are interesting to touch or look at. A great place to start is carrots, which prefer mild temperatures and mature in about 30 days, so the kids won’t get bored. Other varieties that do well in containers are beetroot, tomatoes, salad leaves, spring onion and baby spinach. Most herbs are also a safe bet. Your salads will be popping with colour!
Get the kids involved
Involving your kids in your exciting new project of urban gardening is a surefire way to get them more interested in the prospect of vegetables. Give each child a plant to tend to, place them in charge of watering duties and then let them pick the produce themselves. They’ll be far more inclined to eat the salad they planted, grew and picked as opposed to seeing a bag of products thrown into a bowl.
Watch them learn
Kids are naturally inquisitive, so getting them involved in growing their own veggies is a great way for them to learn more about nature and where food comes from. They’ll also gain valuable skills they can take into adulthood. Beyond Sunflowers founder Gisele Zanier links her career today to her childhood spent surrounded by plants in her parents’ garden. Zanier is a strong believer in the power of green to keep us happy, well and de-stressed. Introduce your kids to plants now and there’ll be numerous benefits for them down the track.
The great thing about growing your own veggies is that you only use as much as you need. How often have you rescued a soggy bag of half-used herbs or salad leaves from the bottom of the crisper? With your own garden, you can pick exactly what you need, when you need it, and save a tonne of money on pre-packed salad ingredients.
Taste the difference
Once your garden starts yielding its first crops, you’ll notice the incredible taste of freshly picked produce straight away. Bright juicy tomatoes, crisp lettuce leaves, and carrots bursting with flavour – your kids won’t be able to say no to your cooking! And once you’ve tried your own homegrown food, the stuff from the supermarket just won’t compare. Bon appétit!