7 Common Mistakes When Starting A Kids Vegetable Garden – And How To Avoid Them!
- Are you desperate to spend more time as a family?
- Would you love to encourage your kids to eat a wider range of healthy food especially fruit and vegetables?
- Do you feel the need to connect with nature and explore the great outdoors?
Well, listen up and we’ll show you that with a little bit of know how and a bit of patience, you could soon start your own vegetable garden with your kids.
Growing your own fruit and vegetables and spending time connecting with the wildlife and nature around you, and becoming part of that amazing circle of life.
But before we begin, please remember. Vegetable gardening with your kids is nothing like gardening on your own.
Growing your own fruit and vegetables is a wonderful way to spend some time together learning a new skill but it doesn’t always go right.
When kids are let loose on a vegetable garden, they are inquisitive and heavy footed.The phrase “Bull In A China Shop” comes to mind…
So, Here’s 7 Common Mistakes And How To Avoid them!
1. Fail to plan, plan to fail.
Most vegetable gardeners at some point have been desperate to make a start, that they get so excited that they buy lots of seeds and plants.
They fill the space in the vegetable garden with as much as possible with no forward thought
Then as the plants grow, they don’t have the space to grow and can’t find enough nutrients to grow well.
Giant pumpkin plants can’t grow to their full potential in a pot the size of a bean tin.
The easiest way to avoid a disaster?
Start with a plan and work out what space you want to plant in.
Are you going to use a few pots on the patio or dig over a patch of your garden as your vegetable garden?
You also need to plan what you’re going to grow. Different plants have different needs to grow at their best.
- Pumpkins and potatoes need lots of manure and food to grow well.
- Peas and beans need good rich moisture retentive soil.
- Wildflowers need a poor soil with no manure etc
Knowing a bit about the plants you want to grow and planning in advance what those plants need to grow best will make the whole job easier in the long run.
2. Planting Everything At Once And Starting Too Big
When your planning and dreaming about growing wonderful flowers, vegetables and fruit.
It’s easy to get carried away and buy everything you fancy. But take it from me it’s not a good idea.
Being overwhelmed by the amount of seeds or plants you have to fit in to a space that’s just not big enough is not going to work.
Kids need space to play and explore so ramming every tiny space with plants you’ve bought isn’t going to help. They also need size appropriate garden tools so they can manage these jobs alone instead of relying on an adult to do everything.
Here’s a wonderful list of other tools and items you might want to consider as gifts for birthdays or Christmas?
Plants also need space to grow into and less competition for food.
SO, How to prevent it:
“Start small. Even start with 1 plant and grow confident with that plant first.
As your confidence grows and you learn what it’s needs are, you can add another or a few, maybe taking over more land or pots as you slowly expand.
Starting with fewer plants allows you to learn more about those particular plants and take time to teach your kids each step needed and where they do best in your vegetable garden, as well as what their needs are.
As your knowledge together grows so will your experience and your garden.
3. No, No, No!!
Kids love to dig and help with most jobs in the vegetable garden, but sometimes they may go off on an idea of their own or not complete a task as it needs doing.
For example If your child is planting seeds in wonky rows, not planting seedlings deep enough or gets fed up half way through and starts dancing around, you might need to step in and say no!
However, consider this carefully and whether it is necessary as too many “no’s” and your child could turn off from helping and see it as a chore!
How to avoid this one?
Try to find ways to let your kids help using safer methods.
.Using scissors to harvest crops like carrot tops, sweetpeas, or to help snip pods off pea plants instead of pulling.
For help in sowing seeds in straight rows try pulling a length of string between to sticks and pushing the stick in at either end of the row so the string shows where to sow.
For younger children, it can be easier to find safer tasks than trampling over seedlings.
My son loves to water plants with his mini watering can, we give him a pail of water so he can refill his can and off he tots.
Here is a ton of other ideas to get you started.
He’s also good at picking daisies from the grass and digging over areas that haven’t been planted yet looking for worms and bugs.
4. Helping In The Vegetable Garden.
If you are a gardener or even just excited about getting started, your kids will find it hard to put their stamp on their vegetable garden.
If they have to be told how to do everything and where to put things they will find it hard to feel invested in it.
How to fix it?
Again it’s about planning, give them their own section of garden or their own pot.
Let them look over the seed catalogues themselves and pick what they want or let them with you and go to the garden center to pick out what they would want to grow.
Help and advise them if you feel they aren’t going in the right direction but let them have their final say.
Last year my then 18 month old had his own large pot (about 40cm across) and he wanted to grow peas.
We sowed them in lengths of guttering so he could watch them grow. Once they reached a good size.
Then we planted them at the base of a tripod of bamboo canes in his pot. These went at the back so they had space to grow up.
At the front we planted some red chard leaves, a small viola which has flowers are safe to eat, he wanted strawberry plant too.
It worked well as he has flowers for most of the year that he picked to eat and decorate our meals with but also to feed to our rabbit AND they attracted pollinators which helped the strawberries and peas.
We had the peas coming thick and fast which he loved to water and then snipped them off as they were ready and munched them all for snacks in the garden, but he loved them!
After the peas were fading, the strawberries were in full flow or delicious berries which he loved picking out each morning for breakfast.
I can’t vouch for how they tasted as I was banned from touching them ha.
Now, as the autumn has begun we are still picking viola flowers and the chard leaves are beefing up to give us salad leaves in the winter. Yum
As we tidy away the dried up peas we can keep any stragglers we find dried to re sow next spring.
Strawberries will produce new plants on runners so we can also pot these up and plant next season to give us more.
To save the pot being empty over the winter we have spring flower bulbs to plant too.
ALL FROM ONE POT!!!
5. Forgetting To Label Your Plants
It is amazing how similar tiny seedlings look.
They all start with their own seed leaves which can be very hard to identify from another.
Ok, pumpkins couldn’t be confused with a cabbage but all Brassica’s like sprouts, cabbage, broccoli and kohl Rabi look exactly the same.
It can cause lots of problems if your plants aren’t labeled correctly.
It’s also a good idea to become familiar with what your herbs, fruits, and vegetables look like at different stages of growth so that you do not accidentally pull them and leave the weeds behind.
How to avoid it?
Simple. Spend a crafty day making your own labels.
You can Use plastic plant labels from the shops but making your own is so much more fun.
Make them by painting rocks or sticks or recycle your home plastic and make diy labels. Just make sure the ink can’t rub off once you write your name.
I also like to record the date I planted the seeds so it gives us an idea of how long they take for next year.
6. Don’t expect miracles
You need to remember kids have the attention span of a gold-fish so don’t expect miracles straight away.
Tasks need to be kept to short intervals 5 to 10 minutes ive found before giving something else to try.
It’s so important to plan ahead so you have a few different activities to try each time. Try giving out the water can to entertain them while you prep the next activity.
How to fix it?
Prepare prepare! Choose a handful of tasks you want to complete each day and prepare the materials needed to complete them.
Complete 1 at a time and lf kids get distracted try changing between activities to keep their interest.
But remember it is a huge learning curve, so if your lines arent straight and your onions have mixed in with your salad crops.
Dont panick its fine and by you excepting it and not causing a fuss you might just teach the kids something valuable.
7. You’ll huff and puff and grow some more!
Some kids just love being outdoors and getting muddy and the garden is a happy place but there’s others who hate to get dirty, shirk anything that feels like a must do task or simple don’t want to be outdoors doing another chore.
So small simple tasks that can be completed quickly are essential.
You could even start off with simple garden crafts to encourage the kids outdoors.
But, don’t pester your child to do their tasks or criticize their work when they have completed it.
Don’t scold them if they get fed up and wander off. Nothing will turn them off faster than gardening feeling like work.
How to fix this?
Use your own enthusiasm to excite them about gardening. Let them choose what tasks they complete and praise them when they complete it no matter the job they did.
Try not to insist they take part or feel discouraged, all children access things at their own pace.
Lead by example and be energetic and enthusiastic about gardening and growing and they will soak it in eventually.
Try to let your kids do the fun stuff and do the weeding and less fun jobs yourself.
- Make seed bombs instead of sowing lines of seeds.
- Learn how to plant spring or summer bulbs.
- Check out other gardening activities for Autumn.
Your not going to give them the garden bug by making them sort a field of weeds.
So whatever you choose to grow, just remember to make it fun, plan ahead and above all enjoy being together.
Check out this post for more ideas on activities kids can help with around the garden.
To start growing some vegetables from your own kitchen scraps try this one
Let us know how you get on starting your own garden and don’t be afraid to let us know if you have any questions.