Farm-to-Table at Home: Start Your Own Garden

Many children today don’t make the connection between packaged food at the supermarket and the actual process of growing and harvesting food. At North Tampa Christian Academy, a Tampa private school, we believe it’s vital to involve students in every step of the process! Not only does gardening teach responsibility and respect for the Earth, and the value of hard work, it equips your child to make healthy lifestyle choices.

Pick the Right Plants
Gardening can be challenging, but choosing the right plants can make all the difference. Vegetables like green beans, tomatoes, lettuce, jalapeño, and zucchini are all easy to grow and harvest. Try incorporating herbs like basil, thyme, and mint as well! These plants require minimal maintenance, making them perfect for introducing your child to gardening.

Make a Plan
Each plant needs to be properly spaced and planted in the right amount of garden soil. While your child may be excited and ready to toss seeds into the garden bed, encourage them to make a plan. Find a spacious area in your yard that receives plenty of sunlight, and examine the seed packets for information on the best planting conditions. Then, use this information to help your child sketch out a rough layout for your garden.

Healthy Garden, Healthy Earth
Talk to your child about how you can keep the Earth healthy by making good choices for your garden! Use non-toxic fertilizers, and avoid pesticides or other products with dangerous or synthetic ingredients. You can even prevent slugs from entering your garden by placing eggshells around the perimeter. Slugs can’t conquer these sharp shells, and eggshells add calcium to your soil.

Remove Weeds as Needed
Weeds are a hazard to home gardens. Their roots choke out other plants, stealing the valuable nutrients they need to thrive. Show your child how to carefully remove weeds when they appear in the garden. The more involved they are in the care and upkeep of the plants, the more they’ll appreciate the food that makes it to their plates.

Encourage Them to Journal
Keeping a garden journal is a wonderful way for your child to track the growth of their plants. Every few days, your child should inspect the garden after watering it. In the journal, they can detail the way each plant is changing, draw or sketch the buds, record new growth, and note the weather to observe how it’s patterns impact the way plants grow.

Enjoy the Produce
After a month or so, the garden should be ready to harvest. This is the perfect job for your child! They can see firsthand how their hard work paid off. Explain to them that each plant will need to be harvested differently — some will need garden shears to avoid damaging the rest of the plant, while others can simply be plucked from the stem. Your local garden center should be able to recommend the best way to harvest each particular plant.

At North Tampa Christian Academy, a premier Tampa private school, our unique academic approach fosters your child’s natural sense of wonder and curiosity. We encourage students to explore the world around them and appreciate its beauty. Learn more about our educational philosophy, and schedule a tour of our school to discover what makes us different.