Every year, I plant a garden with high hopes of yielding buckets of vegetables for my family to eat. My kids tell me what they want in the garden. I honor those requests and we plant the starter plants.
But, every year, I get a paltry bunch of undersize veggies. After reading Jen Haugen’s new book, The Mom’s Guide to a Nourishing Garden, I think I’ve got the answer to why my veggies are small and under-performing: poor nutrient quality in my soil!
Jen takes the time to outline the benefits of planting a garden for your family’s health and child’s learning about food, and she digs a bit deeper.
She explores the pursuit of life balance, especially as a mom. Through her own life journey, including a career, job changes, having children and finding ways to connect in meaningful ways with herself and her family, Jen enlightens, challenges, and calls us to act on making the world a better place through the simple things we do with our own children every day, including planting a garden.
Her journey resonated with me, as I recalled hitting a point of emotional exhaustion, “kid guilt,” and that feeling of never being enough, for anyone, not too long ago. I think as moms, we can empathize with the struggle of “giving our all” at volunteering, a career, parenting and the role of spouse, friend, daughter, etc and actually feeling that despite giving and giving to the point of exhaustion, it’s not enough.
In a nutshell, you can’t be everything to everyone. I was interested to read how Jen handled that in her own life, and I think you will be, too.You can't be everything to everyone. Click To Tweet
As a gardener, Jen does a great job of outlining how to get started with a garden, adding in tips and practical advice for different types of vegetable and fruit gardens, how to create a rich soil environment, what and how to plant, and what you can do with all that gorgeous produce (hello, recipes!).
One thing, she warns, is not to get too overwhelmed with the idea that the garden has to be perfect. Rows don’t have to be straight or the garden as a whole doesn’t have to look pretty. That’s just too overwhelming! Rather, use the garden as a way to connect with your children and make tending to it a family affair. As the saying goes, “Many hands make light work.” And, she reminds us, there aren’t many things that families can do together at the same time—gardening can be one of those family unifiers.
Other reasons to garden with your kids:
Gardening is one of the natural persuasions to nutritious foods. Watching seeds turn into plants which eventually yield fruit or vegetables is amazing and it’s a fascinating process for kids to observe.
Research shows that garden growers are better eaters. Makes sense to me! Just like kids who cook are more likely to eat what they make, the same applies to eating what you sow.
I especially liked the age-related tips for your child to do in the garden:
Children under 5 years old
- Make a digging garden
- Provide kid-size tools
- Explore gardening books together
- Tour greenhouses and plant nurseries
Elementary age kids
- Let your child choose some of the vegetables and fruit to plant
- Design the garden together
- Add some pizzazz (choose or make garden ornaments)
- Visit a local nursery
- Play games such as “Grow the Garden” (a 30-minute game where you weed, water, and harvest)
- Keep a garden journal
- Have a garden patch picnic
Middle School age children and beyond
- Give them their own patch of land
- Go online together
- Make harvesting fun (Jen suggests a game called “Cropped” where vegetables are picked into a basket and children have to come up with a menu idea based on what’s available).
Gardens are taking the world by storm! You’ll find them at homes, schools, churches, and more!
Have you planted a garden with your kids?
I am giving away one copy of Jen’s book, The Mom’s Guide to a Nourishing Garden!
You have three chances to enter. Here’s how:
- Mandatory entry: Tell me in the comments below about your experience (and your child’s) with gardening.
- Second entry: Like my Facebook page (facebook.com/TheNourishedChild) and tell me in the comments below that you did. If you are already a fan, tell another friend and let me know!
- Third entry: Like Jen’s Facebook page (facebook.com/JenHaugenRD) and tell me you did in the comments below.
This giveaway will run from June 1 through June 8. The winner will be randomly selected using Random.org. You must be 18 to enter and live within the United States.
Disclosure: I was given a copy of Jen’s book to review.
P.S. If you want to run out and purchase it right away, go here.
Written by: Jill Castle, MS, RDN
Published on: June 1, 2016
Updated on: July 24, 2019