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If your homeschooling family is anything like ours, you know that any experience can be made into a learning experience. It’s one of the reasons we love homeschooling so much! Here in the northeast, the weather is warming up, so it’s time for us to start a family vegetable garden again and you can bet that we’re going to make it as much of a learning experience as we can!
Hi! I’m Elizabeth from That Homeschool Family and I’m so excited to be guest posting for Blessed Homeschool this week! Since we’ve been growing a vegetable garden for quite a few years, my two elementary-aged boys are plenty familiar with the entire process and experience by now.
I asked them to give me some reasons why they like having a vegetable garden and why other families should start vegetable gardens, too, and here’s what they came up with!
Learning About your Area
As soon as we get the first day with temperatures over 40 degrees, we start getting antsy about planting our flowers and veggie plants. As exciting as it can be to start planting, it’s super important to wait until the right time.
You don’t want to risk an overnight frost killing your new plants and you want to make sure you’re planting the correct type of plants at the right time. When’s that? The Farmer’s Almanac Planting Calendar and the Growing Zone Finder from Burpee can be super helpful in determining when to plant your vegetable plants. I especially love the Farmer’s Almanac resource because they provide a number of recommended dates for options to start seedlings indoors, plant seeds or transplants outdoors, and start seedlings outdoors.
While learning the general planting “seasons” for your area can be helpful in and of itself, this information can totally be used as part of a geography lesson!
You could give the kids a list of towns or zip codes across the United States (perhaps areas in which out-of-town family members live?) and have them figure out the optimal planting dates. You could even turn it into a science activity by asking your kids WHY growing zones vary depending on location? Have locations ever changed growing zones? (spoiler alert: my area used to be Zone 5 and is now Zone 7).
Learning Where your Food Comes From
Does food just magically appear in the grocery stores? As magical as that would be, most of us know that it just doesn’t.
When I was a teacher, I was amazed to hear that so many of my students didn’t know where their food came from. They knew it was in the grocery store, but struggled to tell me how it ended up in those stores and all the work that went into growing those fruits and vegetables before they made their trek to the produce section.
When you start a family vegetable garden, you’re educating your children about where their food comes from. They’ll learn that lady bugs, bees, and worms play a large part in the success of a vegetable garden. They’ll learn about the different varieties of tomatoes, that leafy greens will not survive the summer heat, and that raspberry plants will reproduce and take over your yard if you let them. Of course, this is all information that could be learned in books and videos, but there is absolutely nothing like first hand experience.
My oldest son has also asked me to include how he now appreciates knowing WHAT is in his food. When you start a family vegetable garden, you are able to control what goes into your food. You get to decide whether or not to use pesticides. You can choose to practice IPM farming or plant only organic or non-gmo plants. My boys love getting to have a say in the decision-making of our gardens from start to finish.
Another plus about learning where your food comes from? It could encourage your kids to try some new fruits and vegetables.
My youngest son would prefer to live off of carbs for the rest of his life (as, I’m sure many of us would like), and doesn’t really like vegetables. When we started our family vegetable garden, and he put effort into the planting and maintenance of the plants, he started being open to trying new vegetables, though! I can’t guarantee you’ll have the same experience, but it’s totally worth a shot, right?
Trying New Recipes & Methods of Preserving
When’s the last time your kids got excited to try a new zucchini recipe? Or begged you to make Caprese salad with garden-fresh cherry tomatoes? When’s the last time YOU couldn’t wait to get some fresh cucumbers to make cucumber salad?
We are totally a foodie family over here, but the excitement of enjoying a dish created with the literal fruits (and veggies!) of your labor can be experienced by anyone! When your garden produces a ton of zucchini, you’ll be looking for new recipes to use up the bounty of your garden because, let’s get real, one can only eat so many zoodles. In addition, you certainly don’t want all your hard work to be, quite literally, wasted.
If you’re adventurous, you may try your hand at canning foods from your garden (this website is great for learning about canning!) or even dehydrating!
We’ve really enjoyed growing and harvesting fruits and vegetables from our own garden and often share our experiences and bounty on Facebook & Instagram. We’d love to see you over there as we, That Homeschool Family, share our lives, tips, and resources for families and homeschooling! Thank you so much for checking out my guest post on starting a family vegetable garden!
Stay safe and enjoy quality time with your families!
This guest post is part of the Homeschool Summer Fun Series. Make sure to check out the series landing page to learn more about the series and find all of the posts in one place!