To use the old adage “Spring has Sprung”…well almost….it still feels a tad wintery around here in the Hutt Valley, but the Tui are out and the Kowhai tree is throwing its yellow flowers all over my lawn! This month I thought I would talk about getting your children involved with family gardening. The beauty of having a garden is that ANYONE can have one. Even those of you who live in small (or large) inner city apartments. All you need is a decent sized container for what you want to grow and somewhere with some light (preferably sunshine). 

The best way to encourage your children and family to participate in family gardens is to encourage them to choose what needs to be grown…and then let them prepare and eat what has been grown! This is where the “health” part pokes its nose it…because remember, I am a nurse…not a gardener!, so for the benefits of this wee article I will refer to vegetable gardens…of course, feel free to grow flowers or trees or whatever you like!

It’s pretty well known (don’t you know!) that when young children, and even older kids are encouraged to participate in family activities, they are more likely to benefit from them. So if you allow your young families to grow their own veges and fruit, when it comes time to harvest, they will be more inclined to eat said produce! Yay! Fresh, healthy fruit and veges! This is also a wonderful way for younger school aged children to learn about different types of foods and their uses.

Vegetables are easy to grow. Lettuce is a great starting point. Grown from seed or from seedling (instant gratification) lettuce is simple, takes up very little space (can be grown in a small pot on the kitchen table!) and can be readily turned into a salad! Grab a slightly larger pot, put it somewhere warm and sunny (balcony/backyard), chuck a tomato plant in it and voila!…TWO salad veges that are pretty easy to grow! Of course, small (or big) herb gardens are pretty hard to pass up to…and again simple to grow. Having fresh herbs available to add to meals is an excellent way to spice up and increase the nutritional value of foods.

Spring is the best time to start a family garden. The weather is calmer (usually), the frosts are gone (again…usually) and plants seem to be pretty willing and able to grow! So mosey on down to your nearest plant store and have a look at what they have on offer. Before you know it you will be eating your own healthy (and cost effective) vegetables! Yum!

So, have a great rest of season! I hope it’s warming up wherever you are!

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Kate Anderson is a trained Well-Child Nurse with two little people of her own. She also runs Stroll Smart NZ and loves getting out and about with her buggy.

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