A vegetable garden is a fabulous way for a family to work together to achieve something amazing.  As luck would have it, the time is right to get started on a project that will provide hours of fun, entertainment and great things to eat that will last for months and maybe even forever!

The best way to get kids to eat veggies (or at least try them) is to get them involved with growing them, right from the start.  On the next yucky rainy weekend, call everyone together and come up with a plan for what you want to grow in your garden.  Talk about how delicious each veggie will taste and come up with a list that everyone is happy with.

The next step is to wait for the next sunny day where everyone can help and find a good spot to put your garden.  You may need to sacrifice your sunniest spot as most vegetables need a good eight hours of sun.  You can either dig straight into the ground and clear away the weeds and all trace of lawn, or if your soil is mostly clay, mostly sand or floods from time to time then you may want to build a raised bed.  If you are renting, all is not lost – you can get a load of containers to grow your veggies in.

There are really cute kid-sized gardening tools available at most good garden centres, so there is no reason why the kids can’t help out.  And in the beginning there is a lot of digging, moving dirt and getting dirty to be done.  It may seem like hard work but when you are working together you can make it fun.  Wheelbarrow rides are a great way to create a bit of magic for the kids when their attentions are flagging, or going on a DSC00786worm hunt to see how many worms you have.  Worms are a great way to tell how good your soil is.  If you have loads then your garden is full of goodness.  Not so many worms mean you will need to add some compost to your soil.

Soon your garden should be done and looking good and full of lovely, fluffy, weed free soil.  Don’t worry if this takes a weekend or two, as it is important to get the soil part right and all trace of the weeds removed or it will come back and haunt you later on as the weeds will reappear – with friends – and they will have their hearts set on taking over your patch!

The next task to get your gardenDSC00791 growing is to plant the seeds.   This is not something to be rushed and all plants have their right time.  If you sow them too early, or plant them in the garden too early they won’t be the best they can be and may even die.  Generally the best time to plant out your plants into your lovely new garden is Labour Weekend in October as this is pretty much when there are no more frosts, which will kill tender vegetable seedlings.  If you are in the north you could take that risk a couple of weeks earlier or if you are in the south you probably should wait a week or so longer.

If you are desperate to plant something in your new patch then I would recommend peas, carrots and radish as they will all grow well in the cooler temperatures and can be sown straight into the soil.  Follow the instructions on the back of the seed packet.  Just watch out for slugs and snails as they can wreak havoc overnight!

So for now, gather your seeds, take out any further weeds that decide to grow in your new garden and wait for the growing season to start.

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Sarah O’Neil lives on a small 3 acre lifestyle block. The family moved from the big city to the country in 2007. Sarah has published 3 books, including The Good Life, four glorious seasons in my country garden. She's also an award-winning blogger, winning a Yates Vegie Growing Challenge and still writes regularly. Visit Sarah’s website at sarahthegardener.co.nz.

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