Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Gardening for Good

By: Kerry McKenzie

Research has shown that kids who are involved in growing and making their own food are more likely to try different foods and eat healthier.  And digging in the dirt is only half of the fun when it comes to gardening!  Getting dirty is so good for you!  Recent research has proven that there are health benefits to digging in the dirt.  There is a particular strain of bacterium in the soil that has been found to trigger the release of a chemical in your body called serotonin, which is called the “happy chemical” because it elevates your mood and decreases anxiety.  And on top of that, this little bacterium has been found to keep your brain healthy and possibly even treat cancer and other diseases. Contact with soil, through gardening or other means, is beneficial!  Now there's a great reason to get outside and garden for good and get your kids involved too!
You don’t need to have a green thumb to get started or even any plant knowledge. Kids can learn as they GROW! All you really need is a yard to dig in or a space to put a few containers. You can even reuse an old sandbox (remove the bottom) and turn it into a raised bed garden or keep the container that last night’s rotisserie chicken dinner was in and put some dirt and seeds in there.   

When planting in pots or an old sandbox, purchasing potting soil in bags is a good choice.  Keep in mind that plants need sunlight and water to grow, so plan your garden in a sunny spot that will catch rain or is easy for you to hand water with a watering can or hose.  If you want to plant your garden in the ground, remove all of the grass and rocks before you start. Tilling or breaking up the soil will help when you are putting the plants in the ground.

Involve your children in deciding which fruits or vegetables to plant as this may gain extra attention when gardening. Make sure to try some new fruits and veggies, like Okra!  I like to plant seedlings so the kids can watch them grow from the very beginning. You can buy seedlings at any home and garden store.  Gently place the seedlings in little holes, cover with a thin layer of dirt and drizzle with some water.

It's important to plant your garden at the right time, and the key is knowing when your area will see its last spring frost. You may lose your warm weather crops if you put them in the ground too soon. Search the Old Farmer’s Almanac freeze chart in your area! 

The next part is amazing!  Water, fertilize with old leaves, pick out the weeds and watch your plants grow. Before you know it you will have fruit and vegetables to pick and eat!  It’s that simple! And it’s fun!

What kind of fruits and veggies do your children like to watch grow? Share your growing tips with us in the comment section!

About the Author: Kerry McKenzie, B.A., M.S., has been working in education for more than 13 years. She is a Certified Health Coach, a 500 level (E-RYT500) yoga teacher and specializes in early childhood motor development. She has a passion for working with expecting moms, babies, toddlers and preschool age children and their caregivers at Greenville Health Systems pediatric clinic, child care centers and in the community. Click here to learn more about Kerry.

20 comments :

  1. My sons started gardening when they were 2. Great article. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. At that age, it is so magical when something grows! Takes a lot of patience but well worth the outcome

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  2. My kids are grown but I think my girls would like it. I'm certainly going to get my grandsons involved.

    Great article. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Gardening can be for the whole family! Just being outside and taking in the fresh air is great!

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  3. Oh this is great to know! Never realized the health benefits of digging in the dirt - my son loves it!

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  4. I don't have a green thumb at all, but I'm stepping out of my comfort zone because we're doing a unit study on Botany for our homeschool. I've never seen the kids so excited to learn. I suspect that the next request from them is for us to plant our own garden. Great post!

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    1. That sounds like a ton of fun! You most certainly can start plants indoors until the weather is perfect for outdoor planting. The chicken containers I mentioned would be the perfect viewing platform for growth too!! Good luck!

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  5. I'm just getting into gardening this season so I' super excited to try to get my son involved! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. That is awesome. Let us know how it GROWS :)

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  6. I love to garden with my children. I was not aware that it has been proven to improve mood by releasing serotonin. That explains why I always feel so relaxed while gardening!

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    1. Oh yea! All those good germs and fresh air are good for the sole ;)

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  7. I agree with you about kids eating what they grow. We have never had a "real" garden but tried to grow in buckets and it didn't work out as well. They did jump at the chance to try what little did grow though! We had a huge sandbox made by my father-in-law years ago & thought about turning it into a garden bed but then we moved & it was too big & bulky to take with us. My mom lives there now & actually asked us if she could! I can't wait to see it being used for something.

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    1. Half of the fun is eating what you grow. And I really hope the sandbox garden works out!!

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  8. I don't have any kids old enough to garden, and I live in the middle of a desert BUT if I didn't and my daughter was older I'm sure she'd like the colorful ones. We'll definitely have a garden later on! Great post, thank you!

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    1. Rock garden? Just kidding! I bet you could plant some things indoors like herbs!!

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  9. We are fairly new to gardening, having just planted our first garden last year. But I agree that it is such a wonderful experience for kids. My oldest is so excited to plant, learn, and play in our garden this year. I can't wait!

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    1. That is awesome that your kids are excited to keep a garden growing. Good luck!

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  10. Great post! My family and I love gardening together. We are excited spring is finally here. We are already picking out the flowers we want to plant in the yard.

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  11. I don't have a garden... and thinking about it, I never gardened growing up... I bet if I had, I would be more inclined to garden now. But hey, it's never too late to start, right?!

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