Plant a Back to School Garden with your Children!

It’s that time again! Children are heading back to school and our lives are getting back into a routine. A healthy project you may want to incorporate into your daily life is caring for a garden. Do you have one or would you like to start one?

Gardening offers children opportunities to get outdoors and exercise while teaching them a useful skill that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

The old adages of “you are what you eat”, and “food is fuel” are still true. It can be easy to turn to take-out and other convenience foods to make meal times more manageable, especially during the rush of back-to-school. Encouraging your children (and ourselves) to eat healthy with the help of a garden, helps the family stay healthy and just plain feel better!

Gardens encourage Keiki to try new things that they wouldn’t otherwise want to try. I remember I was shocked when my kids ate fresh Kale right out of the garden! Even just spending 20 min outside in the garden will yield bountiful results not only in your children but also in your kitchen.

Growing a Home Garden

We spoke with master home gardener and mother Angelina May McRoberts of Kilauea, Kauai, to get inspired on growing a garden at home with your children.

In the Garden
Angelina in her bountiful home garden.

Thanks for talking with us Angelina!

Tell us… why did you start a home garden?

“I was inspired to start a garden because my mom always had a garden when I was growing up. Honestly, there’s nothing more magical than planting seeds, watching them grow, and eating from your own garden. Everything is more exciting when it’s grown by your family’s own hands and it’s been the best way I’ve found to get my kids to eat their veggies.”

How involved are your kids?

“Super involved. They are out there everyday playing and seed saving, pulling weeds, and coming up with ideas of plants they want to grow on their own. “

What are their favorite plants to grow and harvest?

“They really like harvesting and seed saving beans, sunflowers and mustard greens. In fact my daughter has her own seed stash and will plant little gardens all over the property on her own. I’ll find little gardens here and there.”

Any challenges that you’ve had to overcome?

“Yes! I’m always saying… ‘It’s not ripe yet!’ The kids get so excited that they just can’t wait. They’re totally ok to eat green tomatoes and carrots that aren’t even the size of my pinky. Patience, patience, patience. This can be the hardest part in gardening.

Loss can be a challenge too because every seed you plant may not grow to what you want it to be. You also need to be diligent and tend to your garden regularly.”

What would you like to tell other parents that want to start a garden with their children?

“Just do it! It’s instinctual! Gardening is like learning a language, earth language, and the more you engage in it the more fluent you become. Start simple with beans, sunflower seeds, herbs, and/or easy to grow greens like arugula.”

What has been your motivation to tend to a home garden year after year?

“My main passion and purpose has been to plant the seed of sustainability in the future generations. Connecting people to their food source. I feel like in this day and age of uncertainty the greatest gift you could give your kids is earth consciousness. Being in tune with where your food comes from and living with the seasons . It breeds an appreciation for your food source, for the earth, and a connection to our ancestors who lived in harmony with nature.”

Thanks for talking with us Angelina! If you’d like to get in touch with her and her family to see what’s growing on their seasonal farm, go follow their Facebook page.

Growing a School Garden

In addition to health and nutritional benefits, gardening also offers hands-on experiences in a variety of core curriculum which includes natural and social sciences, language arts, nutrition and math. Starting a school garden at your local neighborhood school is a great way to incorporate hands on learning that is fun and satisfying!

This local school has done just that!

We talked with Saisha Whitlock, Coordinator at Anuenue Tree. Anuenue tree is a nature based school on the Island of Kaua’i.

Hi Saisha! Thanks for talking with us at Seascapes Nursery!

Do you have a school garden and how is it incorporated into your school day with the children?

“Hi! Yes we have multiple gardens and the children have responsibilities to water and weed the gardens as well as plant seeds we provide or that they collect from the larger farm on which the program exists.”

That’s so awesome! Why do you think it’s important to have a garden at school?

“I feel it is important to connect the children to where their food comes from and to instill, at an early age the importance of food sovereignty and food as medicine.”

What is the children’s favorite thing to do in the garden?

“They absolutely love to plant seeds and harvest!”

Planting the Garden.

What benefits have the children experienced as a result of having a school garden?

“They have experienced a deeper understanding of where their food comes from and a willingness and excitement about eating foods they normally wouldn’t.”

What advice would you share with people/schools that want to start a garden?

“There are so many lessons that can come from starting a garden with children, it goes deeper than cultivating plants, it can also be a journey into cultivating oneself as well. 

It’s not easy creating a garden, there is a lot of trial and error, however the true magic comes from the journey of it. 

Ready to start your own garden at school or home? Here’s how…

Step 1

Select appropriate vegetables for late summer and fall season. Come into the nursery for a variety of seeds and starts! We grow our own starts and carry a wide variety of Organic Seeds. Curious on what grows well? Check out this article from our archives.

Step 2

Prepare soil:

  • For raised beds, loosen soil and turn it over by adding a combination of Potting Mix and Garden Soil.
  • For in-ground vegetables, amend your native soil with compost.
  • Seascapes nursery has high quality amendments in stock. Don’t be shy… stop by and let us help you pick out what will nourish your soil and in turn, your family!

Step 3

Make troughs and plant seeds at depth and spacing as recommended on the packaging. Yes, you need to read and follow the instructions!

Step 4

Water deeply. Make a fun up-cycle watering can with your children. Learn how here.

Step 5

Feed the garden with homemade compost or organic fertilizer. (see above for products)

Step 6

As your plants begin to grow be prepared to cover and protect your fall vegetable garden with netting to protect from chickens. You may also need a barrier to protect from the pigs. They love to dig around in the soil!

Step 7

When the time comes, pick your vegetables and enjoy!

Not feeling ready for an in ground garden?

Container boxes and pots will still yield a rich harvest! Check out this article for a step by step guide on creating your own container garden.

Stop by the nursery and see our beautiful pots in stock!

Looking for more resources and gardening projects?

Here are some fun ones:

HAPPY GARDENING!

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