by Brianna Nash
Growing up in a city, it was hard to fathom what it took to grow a vegetable garden. My grandparents made it quite simple— my grand-mother in particular. That woman has the greenest thumb I’ve ever seen and could grow about anything she wanted. Summer vacations were always something to look forward to, even knowing I was about to go from schoolwork to yard work.
It was instilled in me long ago that through hard work you shall see the fruits of your labor. And labor was certainly what it took. We had fresh strawberries, raspberries, cherries, cucumbers, tomatoes, and more to pick for breakfast, lunch or supper. It was awesome. Raising my own child now, I want to instill the same love of gardening in him.
But we’re not exactly blessed with a lot of area right now to garden.
Do I let that stop me? Heck, no! I have a patio that doesn’t need a chair and has enough room to grow a few items that we use on a regular basis. I have two romaine lettuce plants growing – my third was eaten by my son as he “helped” – and I intend to have plenty more.
We are planning out what we want to plant, and getting excited. You don’t have to have a huge plot of land to have a vegetable garden; I think that’s where many people get tripped up. You can grow from pots and still teach your children about growing vegetables.
Include them in the planting process and have them pack the soil down. Instruct them to be gentle and explain how fragile the plants are even if they’re big plants. I would say try to discourage them from picking and eating things, but that takes the fun out of it. Of course, make sure they’re eating the edible bits if they do decide to nibble.
We even have a small compost pile with green onions growing in it! Composting is a great way to give your plants nutrients without using Miracle-Gro. Another great way to add nutrients to plants is to use the water that you boil beans in if you drain them. Don’t waste that liquid – it’s like gold to plants. Tons of great yummy things for the plants to feed on.
You don’t need a ton of space to garden on a patio. We’re measuring a space of about 4’ X 4’ and that should hold quite a few plants. One major tip I would give is this: if you can financially afford it, you should buy organic and non-GMO seeds. The food tastes so much better and you’ll be so surprised.
Top tips for growing a patio/field garden and keeping your kids involved:
- Be sure you have enough time to sustain and tend to your garden (usually time in the morning
to water and time in the afternoon to weed/water, depending on how dry your area is).
- Figure out exactly how much space you have to work with.
- Discuss the different vegetable and fruit options that work well in your area. Talk to farmers at a farmers market or go to your local Co-Op for advice.
- Research the plants you intend to grow so that you know how to tend to them to help them grow best.
- Involve your kids EVERY step of the way. The more they’re involved, the more they’ll enjoy it and keep helping (i.e.,if they want to play in the dirt, don’t discourage them)!
- Teach your kids about the time it takes for each plant to sprout and make a game of who can guess which day which items will sprout. They’ll be running to the garden daily to see if they’re right. It keeps them engaged and involved.
- Once things are popping up, keep their involvement at a high and teach them about weeding and properly tending to the garden.
I hope you found this helpful and inspiring. May your family have a wonderful garden and enjoy the fruits of you labor. Don’t forget that, there are plenty of fall and winter crops you can grow as well! Spring and summer aren’t the only time you can grow vegetables. Happy growing!
Brianna is a mother and a coach. Visit her at www.briannalnash.com.