Garden to table

Summer is the perfect time to introduce your children to the joys of growing vegetables, says LINDA TAYLOR.

Now that the weather is warmer, it’s a pleasure to be outside, and gardening with your children is a great way to keep them busy during the school holidays.

It’s also an opportunity to increase your child’s consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables, the philosophy behind the Garden to Table programme which runs in nearly 200 primary schools across the country.

It’s easy to grow vegetables at home and you don’t need to have a large vegetable patch to get started. Many vegetables can be grown in pots on the deck – think tomatoes, peas or a lettuce selection – and you can be as creative as you like. Old gumboots or buckets can be turned into planters, and painting and decorating the outside can make the project more fun.

Choose vegetables that your child enjoys eating and plants that are fast-growing. Most seed packets will tell you how long you will have to wait for the exciting bit when the seedlings show above the soil. If you can, grab a bag of seed-raising mix from your local garden store, and then get planting. Let your child do as much as they can, with your supervision. Simple steps like creating holes for the seeds with their finger, up to the first knuckle, and spacing out the holes by a handspan are practical ways for children to learn about measurement, as well as gardening.

Place your seedlings in a sunny spot out of the wind and, with regular watering, you should see your first seedlings within a week or two. The Garden to Table Trust is a charity focused on food, education and literacy. It works by building life skills through practical hands-on, child-centric classes, which are linked to the school curriculum. It teaches children to grow, harvest, prepare and share fresh produce. Visit gardentotable.org.nz