The days are growing longer, the afternoons lighter, the spring flowers and buds are emerging and the soil is softening. It’s the perfect time to get outside and move our bodies and what better way to do it then gardening! Being active, with a purpose beyond health, can be more inspiring for some of us. And it’s so fun to watch the fruits (or veggies or herbs) of our labour develop. Gardening is also a great family activity that builds connectedness to each other but also helps children develop food literacy or positive attitudes, skills and knowledge about food.
Consider starting some seeds indoors while there are still cooler nights. Pop by your local garden store and buy soil pods and some favourite vegetable or herb seeds like squash, tomatoes, peppers, parsley and kale. Plant the seeds in the moistened soil pods and keep in a sunny window. It’s so fun for kids (and grown ups) to see the sprouts emerge and grow! Then when it warms up, they can be planted directly in the ground or in pots.
Next you may need to order or pick up some soil and mulch to add nutrients to your garden or to fill pots for your patio. Shoveling and raking soil or mulch is a fantastic physical activity but is also the foundation for everything you grow. The kelp in our coastal waters is a wonderful source of nutrients both for our health but also that of our gardens. A lot of the mulch produced here in BC uses kelp as a nutrient source. And don’t forget the compost you may create yourself from your food scraps or that you may be able to buy back from the company that picks up your green bin. Compost is another rich source of nutrients to help our plants grow and thrive.
If you didn’t get a chance to start your own seeds indoors, consider picking up some starts or small plants for vegetables like tomatoes and peppers. Other vegetables and herbs, like cucumber, lettuce, carrots and basil can be sown directly from seed once it’s warm enough. Get buy in from the whole family by letting everyone pick a favourite item or two to grow. If your child is hesitant about eating vegetables, you may notice a keener interest from them if they’ve been involved in selecting and growing them. They will love eating their way through the garden as the summer hits, making an impromptu salad of new greens, herbs, edible flowers, snap peas and perhaps some strawberries!
Maintaining the garden every day is a great way to be active together after work, school or dinner. Watering and weeding require us to stretch and bend but also connect us to what is growing and it can change so quickly as the season progresses.
Just remember to stay positive—not every seed is a success! But like everything else, the more we practice, the more confident we feel. And the outcome is beyond the produce—it’s just as much the experience of being outside together as a family, working towards a common goal.