Exploring Vegetables: Helping My Kids Understand Where Food Comes From

I’ve set my kids up for failure.  When someone asks them, “What color is a carrot?” and they will probably answer “Red, purple, white, and yellow.”

These carrots are in love.

I remember sitting and reading a picture book with my son.  I pointed to a picture of a carrot and asked him what it was but he couldn’t answer.  It wasn’t that he didn’t know the word it was because he’d never seen a carrot with the green top on it!  I was floored.  How could I have failed my child so badly?  I quickly set out to remedy the situation by planting a vegetable garden of our own.  In our drive-through world it’s increasingly important for us, as parents, to make sure we fill in the gaps our plastic coated life-styles have created.

Cleaning off the dirt.

Planting a garden was the first of many steps we’ve taken as a family to reconnect with our food.  It’s been a fun adventure and to make it even more interesting I’ve chosen to grow things that are a bit out of the ordinary.  Why grow what I can buy at the grocery store when I can grow them more beautifully and deliciously myself?!  So, along with a variety of tomatoes, beans, squash and lettuces this year we grew four different kinds of carrots: Atomic Red, Cosmic Purple, Rainbow carrots and Sugar Snax (a plain old orange carrot).

So, what color is your carrot?

Carrots, fresh from the garden are my kids favorite snack on-the-go!

Carrots take a lomg time to grow, here are some other suggestions for gardening with kids,

1. Beans– My absolute favorite thing to grow! They gestate within days and you can see growth in the plants from day-to-day.  Choose a bush bean variety (instead of a pole bean) because they produce much faster.  Beans are great picked straight off the vine, we rarely get enough inside for a meal because the kids eat them on the walk back to the house!

2. Flowers– buying ready-to-plant flowers, like marigolds, are fun for kids.  They get to really see what they’re planting (completely hands on) and then watch them grow!

3. Everbearing Strawberries– ready-to-plant they can start producing within a few weeks and will continue to produce throughout the season.  None of ours ever make it back to the house.

4. Peas– we grow Mr. Big Pea and sugar snap peas because they are so good fresh off the vine.  They germinate quickly and are fun to watch grow every day.  Ours always grow taller than the kids which is cool for them to see: something that started as a seed growing taller than a kid in just a few weeks (make sure you have something to support the plants!)

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