Saturday, July 3, 2010

UnCONTAINable Veggie Vibe

“They’re ready, they’re ready!” My youngest son shouted as he burst through the front door waving a fistful of purple and red radishes, dirt still clinging to their stringy roots. “Can I have them as my snack?” How could I argue with such an enthusiastic plea for veggies? And how did I arrive at this green-star parenting moment?

It started a few years ago when my daughter brought a bean sprout home from school. Having never planted a vegetable before in my life, I had slim hope for this scrawny specimen. Still, I stuck it in a container with my pansies, and like magic, it grew. Not as tall as Jack’s beanstalk, but tall enough to produce several handfuls of beans. The beans must have been magic as well because my kids gobbled them up. The next spring, I decided to expand my container garden repertoire and see if I could re-create the wonder of kids wanting to eat vegetables. I let my kids pick the seeds they would plant. Day after day my kids tended their containers: watering, watching, waiting. Sure enough, each time a radish, tomato, or snap pea ripened, my kids would pop it in their mouths and declare it the best they’d ever tasted.

Planting vegetables might not transform children into picture-perfect healthy eaters (my kids still wrinkle their noses at brussel sprouts) , but they’ll be a lot more interested in trying that carrot or pepper when they had a hand in helping it grow. Growing veggies in pots is a simple and easy way to start cultivating those little green thumbs. Container gardening doesn’t require hours of weeding or watering and is great for small spaces or yards with limited sun. The best veggies to plant in containers are those that take up little space, such as carrots, radishes, lettuce, peppers, or bush tomatoes. (My favorite are radishes. They’re great for impatient gardeners… less than a month from planting to harvest.) All you need is a pot, some planting soil and a packet of seeds, and soon you’ll be hearing those magic words: “Mom, can I pick just one more pepper.. please.”

To find out more about container gardening visit:

Coming Soon: More ways to cultivate those little green thumbs: Read my reviews of books on gardening with children!

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