One of my favorite things as a child was helping my dad in an array of tasks. Whether it was cleaning the garage, organizing the tools, or building something – I was there. But the best task had to be helping with the garden.
We not only had a garden in our backyard but also on some land leased by his work. We planted everything from potatoes to onions to squash to corn.
Having those experiences as a child helped cultivate my interests and knowledge as an adult. I think the value of a garden goes deeper than just the plants itself. It may be cliche but it really does build character. Learning how to nurture something, watch it grow, feeding and watering are valuable lessons everyone can use in life. Not just the gardening aficionado.
Gardening is one of the easiest and most kid-friendly activities you could do with your child! I mean, what kid doesn’t love to play in dirt?!
I encourage you to explore the wonderful opportunities that a fall vegetable garden has to offer this season! Below is a guide on how to do just that.
Building Your Garden
1. Pick Your Space
First you need to pick your space. It can be anything from a few small pots to a nice, raised garden bed. The beneficial thing about raised beds is they can help keep pests away and provide good drainage. You can find plans for raised beds all over Pinterest and with a few cuts and some nails you can build a nice space.
Some plants can be grown in pots as well. If you choose this route you may need to ask a gardening expert at your local nursery or hardware store.
Kid-Friendly Tip: Let them choose a small pot or area just for them to ‘work-in’!
2. Grab Some Soil
A good mixture is one third topsoil, one third compost/manure, and one third peat moss for drainage. This gives a good balance of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium which are key to a healthy garden.
You can pick all of these up at a local hardware store such as Lowes or Home Depot or at a nursery such as Marcums. Once you have all the ingredients they can either be mixed in a wheelbarrow or just mixed right into the garden bed. We just open the bags, toss them in, and mix with a shovel!
Kid-Friendly Tip: Let them grab their shovel or gardening gloves and mix the soil all around!
3. Pick Your Plants
Fall is my favorite time to garden because we can grow things we truly love to eat such as broccoli (my girl can throw down some broccoli)! Make sure you buy veggies that are already in plant form and not from seed as seed needs a longer maturing phase. Some great vegetables to plant this time of year and especially in Oklahoma are:
- Brussel Sprouts
- Swiss Chard
- Herbs (sage, rosemary, thyme, parsley, chives, cilantro)
Kid-Friendly Tip: Let them help pick out the plants and decide what they look forward to eating at harvest. You never know, your child might just be willing to try a new vegetable after they have cared for and watched it grow!
4. Plant & Nurture
This is the fun part! Follow the instructions on the back of the plants to make sure you follow spacing and depth guidelines as it can be crucial to successfully growing plants. If you are really gung-ho you can even research what plants go best beside other plants (but don’t worry it is not imperative).
Also pay attention to how often the plants need watered as to make sure they are being properly nurtured. Continuous care is important and needed.
Kid-Friendly Tip: Visit the garden together as a family everyday either in the mornings or evenings to assess your plants and determine if they need watered! Let the kids help water (so long as they promise not to spray each other)! This is also a great time to give lessons on plant life cycles!
Here is where you get to see all your hard work pay off! Harvest time can be so rewarding. It is where you physically see the fruit of your labor. Make sure to follow harvesting rules for each plant as they will reach maturity at different times.
It is a good idea to visit your garden at least once a day to asses the soil (for watering) and to see if any veggies are ready for picking!
Kid-Friendly Tip: Let kids help harvest! They can physically see the hard work paying off!
A fall vegetable garden doesn’t have to be elaborate and even the smallest of gardens can reap big benefits! Have fun choosing which vegetables your kids like to eat and even teaching them the life cycles of plants if they are old enough. There are so many science lessons as well as life lessons to be learned from a simple vegetable garden.
Do you plant a vegetable garden every year? Is it a spring or fall garden? What do you grow?