Want a way to get your kids off of the couch and save some money at the same time? Start a family vegetable garden. It seems that kids spend most of their time indoors playing video games or watching television these days.
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When I was a child my family always planted a vegetable garden out in the “way back” yard. We were growing cucumbers, fresh lettuce, eggplant, peas, green beans, and radishes. To this day, I still enjoy a fresh-picked hot radish, roots and all attached. I now get bunches from the farm stand, take them home, wash them, salt and enjoy just as is!
My daughter and charming son-in-law recently purchased a new home, and it’s obvious that at one point in time the previous owners had planted a vegetable garden. There’s a small picket fence around a now neglected small plot of land that I’m sure at one time supplied the family with plenty of fresh veggies.
My husband was never the type to enjoy tilling the earth, so I’m hoping that my daughter, hubby and the grandkids will plant a garden next year so I can put on my gardening shoes and stop over and “help.”
Vegetable Garden Tips for Beginners
Foremost, the benefits of a vegetable garden are numerous. First of all, you get to save money on food. A garden isn’t just for flowers, although there are some that have edible leaves. In a garden you can grow fruits and vegetables which have been the staples of a healthy diet since humans first discovered them.
Secondly, a vegetable garden is very eco-friendly. By growing your own food you save on trips to the grocery store which saves gas and decreases pollution. Also, fresh foods contain more of the vitamins and nutrients your body needs so you’ll be getting healthy.
Introduce your kids to nature in a way that shows how it directly benefits them. If you take the care to tend your vegetable garden, you will have delicious food to eat anytime. There’s nothing like feeling hungry and going outside to pluck a juicy red tomato off the vine. You don’t even need a large amount of space – you could even start a container garden!
Here are some tips for families who want to have fun, yet “go green” by producing their own food in a family vegetable garden.
- Get everyone involved. Tilling the soil is a big job. The entire family can help prepare the ground for the garden.
- Learn and read up on gardening. The reason so many people don’t have vegetable gardens is because they don’t know what’s involved. When you start without a plan, you are soon to fail.
- Decide what you will plant. Most gardens are begun at certain times of the year depending on what vegetables you choose and where you live.
- Use organic fertilizers and insect repellents. Organic gardening products are eco-friendly and allow you to eat foods right off the vine or out of the ground if you choose. Early settlers didn’t have chemical pesticides. Adding friendly insects to your garden, like ladybugs, will take care of undesirable pests without any chemicals.
- Weed the garden. Weeds can choke growing vegetables and ruin a garden. Regular weeding is a necessary part of bringing your vegetables to harvest. Take turns so no one feels like they are doing all the hard work themselves.
Freeze or give away extra vegetables. You’ll have enough for the months when nothing is growing. Sharing your vegetables with friends and neighbors, or bringing them a homemade recipe dish such as Mock Crab Cakes from Zucchini, a dessert or bread from your extra zucchini or fruits might inspire them to begin their own vegetable garden!
- Watch your garden grow. There’s nothing wrong with taking a daily tour of the garden with your kids or grandchildren. They can see the fruit of their labors as the vegetables enlarge and push through the soil. You have a front row seat to see nature at work.
Do you want a family activity that’s environmentally sound and saves money? Start a family garden using the tips above. Also contact your local cooperative extension office or State Department of Agriculture for more information on gardening.
© Frugal New England Kitchen