Can you feel it? Spring is in full swing in Vancouver. This is the perfect time of year to start a garden with your little ones. Not only will gardening get you outside, it will also teach your children where their food comes from. Fresh garden veggies are tastier and more nutritious than the ones you buy at the grocery store. Plus – bonus points – kids are often more willing to try new vegetables they grew themselves. Here’s a quick guide to growing food with small children.
Finding a Space
Space is an issue for many Vancouver families. If yours is one of them, there are still some great gardening options. You can find a spot in a community garden – the city maintains a comprehensive list here. If you have a patio or balcony, you can try container gardening. There are local companies that specialize in helping small-space gardeners with wooden garden boxes, grow bags for potatoes, tomatoes or peas, and a wide variety of planters.
What to Grow
When you’re gardening with children you’ll want to choose hardy plants that can take a bit of love. Herbs like sage, mint, chives and oregano are great because they grow like weeds and they can handle having their leaves picked at. If you have the space raspberries and blueberries are low-maintenance and delicious. Potatoes, carrots, garlic, beets and onions are all hardy, and kids will be surprised that their food is growing underground. Here on the West Coast kale grows well, and often survives year-round. If you want specific recommendations for your space and your family’s preferences, ask someone in the know. Which leads us to…
Where to Find Gardening Supplies
One of the best places to go for gardening advice and plants is the farmers’ market. The farmers often sell seeds or surplus plants, and they’re experts in growing food in our local climate. Drop by eatlocal.org to find the Vancouver farmers’ market nearest you, or check out www.bcfarmersmarket.org for markets in other communities. If you need help starting, Victory Gardens Vancouver specializes in helping people set up gardens in small spaces. West Coast Seeds carries a huge variety of seeds and gardening products at their store in Ladner, and you can also order them online. For garden supplies including planters, seeds and plants visit Art Knapp downtown on Hornby if you’re in the city.
Have you done any gardening with kids? Share your stories of success (or failure)!