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Dirty Work: Creating Edible Gardens with Kids

When was the last time you played in the dirt? Following my son’s example—he regularly wears a shirt that reminds, “A little dirt won't hurt”—I joined him for an afternoon in our backyard. We dug. We planted. We watered. We finished with soil under our nails, mud on our shoes, and, don’t ask how, dirt down my shirt and his diaper! (Perhaps the latter could be the result of a toddler’s zeal for using his very own garden tools.) We created our first edible garden this weekend. And the timing proved perfect since it also happened to be Earth Day.

I know gardening together left an impression and made my son feel a strong connection to nature, to his food, and hopefully to each other. He immediately asked to eat the Hot and Spicy Oregano straight from the pot, dirt and all. During our evening ritual, he shared that his favorite part of the day was his plants. He even asked to see them before bedtime.

It’s my hope that by planting and growing his own container of herbs, he will begin to understand what “farm to fork” truly means—the steps to growing food (including patience!) and how it ultimately lands on his plate. In a time when children’s obesity is on the rise and hours in front the screen far exceed those spent outdoors, tending to an edible garden is an ideal way to encourage him to make healthy eating choices. It’s also an important way to inspire him to live a green, eco-friendly life.

If you want to nurture nature, here’s how you, too, can make your own container garden (green thumb not needed).

Select your favorite herbs from your local nursery, garden center, or big box store like Home Depot or Lowe’s—I purchased organic varieties of rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano, cilantro, and mint. Be aware, however, that the mint must be planted in its own pot because it will spread and overgrow the others. 

If using a big pot for your container garden, you can reuse the plastic nursery pots to fill the bottom half to save on the amount of organic potting soil needed while still allowing for drainage. 

Before removing the herbs from the nursery pots, water the plants to saturate the roots and help loosen the soil from the sides of the plastic containers.

A trick to easily remove the herbs is to roll the pot on its side while using gentle pressure.

Once out, make sure to break apart and separate the roots that have been compacted at the bottom of the pot.

Arrange the herbs equidistant from each other. Dig holes. Place plants so their base is level with top of soil. Cover roots and fill any gaps with the remaining potting soil. Water.

Enjoy in cooking (or as a garnish in your evening drink!). 

~ The Other Sarah

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