Kids And Gardening: A Good Combination

In my family we all helped with the gardening. We had two large gardens and grew and preserved enough vegetables to last until the next season. I wasn’t always thrilled about all the weeding, picking and cutting, but it was part of the Garden family’s regular routine.

I never argued about eating vegetables, either. I helped grew the food, and I surely wasn’t going to have all that work go to waste!

Did you help your family with a garden as a child?  Kids can learn many things from helping you grow vegetables, fruits and flowers.  They learn to care for things and cooperate. They also learn about horticulture, nutrition and physical activity. Gardening can lead to culinary explorations in your kitchen. They might even taste all the things you grow.

Many plants grow well in the Midwest, including beets, carrots, cucumbers, green beans, lettuce, onions, potatoes, pumpkins, rhubarb, spinach, squash, sugar snap peas, tomatoes, zucchini and several others.

When getting kids started with gardening, be sure they have the proper tools to get them started including child-sized gloves, trowel, rake and water can.  Of course you also need soil, plants or seeds and sometimes, pots for container gardening. If children are planting seeds, start with the larger seeds such as string beans, which sprout quickly and are fun to pick later.

It’s not too late to plant a garden.  You might want to give yourself a little headstart by buying plants, instead of starting with seeds. NDSU Extension has lots of information on the “Field to Fork” website (, including many archived webinars from gardening experts and much more!

Here’s a recipe to inspire a garden or at least a trip to the grocery store or farmers market.

Garden Chili

½ pound lean ground beef
1 c. chopped onion
½ c. potatoes, cut into small cubes
1 (15-ounce) can dark kidney beans
1½ c. diced tomatoes, blanched to remove skins
1 (15-ounce) can or about 2 c. tomato sauce
½ c. chopped green peppers
1 c. of water
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp. cumin, ground
½ tsp. black pepper

Brown ground beef and onion in saucepan over medium heat. Blanch fresh tomatoes by removing stems and scoring bottom of tomato; boil one minute, immediately place in cold water, remove skins. Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Makes eight servings. Each serving has 170 calories, 22 grams (g) carbohydrate, 3 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 14 g protein, 6 g fiber and 460 milligrams sodium.