Do your kids consider the words “eat just one more bite of broccoli” a declaration of war at the dinner table? Are you assembling healthy school lunches each week only to have your handiwork return picked-through? Is the threat of scurvy in your family imminent? (Hope not!)
Well, I have good news. There’s a simple way to convince your kids to eat more veggies—one that’s proven effective time and time again.
The secret is this: grow your vegetables. Or more specifically, have your kids grow them.
Several studies have linked gardening and healthy eating habits in kids. (For what it’s worth, I think the same could be said about people of all ages.) When we grow something ourselves, we’re naturally more invested in it, more connected to it. So it makes sense that we’d appreciate it more on the way down, right? (Plus, it’s hard to beat the flavor of freshly harvested, homegrown produce!)
Converting your kids into spinach enthusiasts is just one reason to involve them in gardening. Gardening also:
- Appeals to the senses, engaging taste, sight, smell and touch
- Begs to be measured, from growth rate to pH levels
- Teaches patience, discipline and attention to detail
Ready to grow a Tower Garden with your kids? Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Tower Garden Ideas for Kids
You could introduce your kids to gardening in a number of ways. But I suggest using Tower Garden because:
- There’s no dirt, which means less mess
- Plants grow faster, so kids quickly see the results of their effort
- You don’t have to weed, leaving you more time to enjoy the good parts of gardening
- You can grow indoors (like in a classroom) or out and move your garden around
How to Involve Your Family in the Tower Garden Experience
Have your kids help set up your Tower Garden. Putting it together can act as a lesson about following instructions. And if you start plants from seeds, your kids will witness the wonder of a plant’s complete lifecycle.
Task them with finding the best location for your Tower Garden. There are a few key factors to consider when picking a place to grow. See if your kids can locate a spot that meets all the criteria.
Ask your kids what they want to grow. And then let them “claim” growing ports. Ownership is good. They’ll be more invested in and engaged with their plants. (See more on what to grow below.)
Assign them Tower Garden duties. Make garden maintenance fun with titles like “water monitor,” “leaf inspector” and “chief harvester.” Encouraging your kids to own these roles is an easy way to foster responsibility.
Best Plants to Grow with Kids
Planning a Kid-Friendly Tower Garden really isn’t too hard. And there’s a lot of room for experimentation. The key is to plant crops that are experiential in some way, whether they’re spicy, colorful, fragrant or something else.
To help get your wheels turning, here are 10 crops to plant for a Kid-Friendly Tower Garden (in alphabetical order):
- Cherry tomatoes are cute and a pleasure to pop into your mouth.
- Chili peppers are spicy! And, depending on the variety, they’re often colorful, too.
- Herbs grow easily and engage your senses. Consider starting with basil, cilantro, lavender, mint or rosemary.
- Mini sunflowers are bright, beautiful and edible. If you’re growing outdoors, sunflowers will attract birds and bugs (more of nature your kids can study!).
- Mustard greens are colorful and peppery—a great way to make healthy salads more interesting.
- Nasturtiums are hardy, pest-repellent, fast growers (i.e., ideal for beginners). They also have a delightfully tangy flavor.
- Pumpkins take time to grow. But they’re worth the wait!
- Snap peas grow quickly and are delicious treats to eat raw right off your Tower Garden.
- Strawberries are probably the closest thing to candy you can grow. What kid can resist a strawberry?
- Watermelons offer juicy refreshment with each bite. Spit out the seeds, and grow more!
Now that you know what to grow, here’s how to arrange your Tower Garden. As you customize your plan, remember that you should plant in a pyramid shape (e.g., bigger plants at the bottom, small plants up top).
Do You Garden with Kids?
To plant a seed is to invest in the future.
It takes a careful combination of faith, discipline and patience to grow a healthy plant from something that’s often no bigger than the head of a pin.
You sow the seed and water daily. Once it sprouts, you feed it with light and nutrients. And after a few weeks, that tiny seed transforms into something greater: food that nourishes your body.
That’s pretty amazing.
I think you can draw parallels between plants and kids. Both require time, commitment and patience. Deliver these things, and both can transform into something remarkable.
Maybe it isn’t all that strange then that incredible things can happen when you combine gardening and children. When they grow plants, kids reap more than just fruits and vegetables. They flourish in mind and body. (I think this is just one reason Tower Garden is finding its way into classrooms all over the United States.)
Do you garden with kids? What do they like to grow? Do you have any tips you’d like to share with other Tower Gardener families?
Let’s continue the conversation in the comments!