Last year was our first year planting a raised bed garden in our backyard as a family, and it was a huge success! We grew more cherry tomatoes than we could eat from spring through fall. We also grew cucumbers, jalapeños, green beans, and herbs.

The best part was my kids were enjoying vegetables more. They were so excited to snack on tomatoes that they had freshly picked from the garden. I loved how it encouraged healthy eating and also taught my kids to start thinking about where their food comes from.

I take my kids grocery shopping with me and they enjoy looking at all the fresh fruit and veggies, but before we gardened they didn’t really understand how the fruits and veggies grew before they were on the store shelves.

There are so many benefits and learnings your kids will gain from growing your own backyard garden. Here is a short list I compiled of seven benefits, but there are so many more!

7 Benefits to Growing a Backyard Garden with Kids

  1. Understanding where our food comes from. My kids are learning produce don’t magically appear in our refrigerator or store shelves. They take time to grow from seeds.
  2. Go Green. You produce less waste when you grow your own food because you’re not using plastic bags at the grocery store, fuel for shipping the produce from farm to store, etc.
  3. Garden fresh food tastes better. Have you ever eaten a freshly picked vine ripened cherry tomato? They are divine!
  4. Counting. We count seeds as we plant them and we count the ripe produce as we pick it from the garden. In my opinion, the more practice you can give your kids counting the better. When math becomes a part of daily life its no longer a chore to learn.
  5. Hands on activity for the family. Planting and harvesting a garden is a family friendly activity. Kids can help plant seeds, and pick the ripe fruits and veggies. The kids will become engaged and invested in the garden.
  6. How to care for a living thing. I taught my son that we have to check on the seeds and sprouts every few days. We water them, pick weeds, trim dying leaves. When our seedlings died when we were gone for a week, they learned that plants need water and sun to grow and we have to tend to them regularly.
  7. Patience. My kids learned patience because it takes weeks or months for the seeds to grow into ripe, edible produce. If they pick the produce too soon, it will not be edible. This is a valuable lesson that will benefit them their entire lives.

This is how we started our backyard garden from seeds this year

This year instead of buying small sprouts for our garden we decided to start it from seeds! I had been saving egg cartons and we reused these egg cartons to grow our seedlings.

My son and I filled the cartons with fresh, organic soil. Then we planted seeds into each egg slot in the carton. I labeled on the carton as we planted so we would remember what we were growing where.

This year we are trying a few new plants in our garden. We planted: radish (I heard this grows very quickly so provides an early reward to eager kids), okra, carrots, jalapeño, tomatoes, cucumbers, beets, cantaloupe, and watermelon.

My son and I planted the seeds, and then diligently watched over the seedlings for almost three weeks. We placed them under a window that gets direct sunlight in our house. We sprayed them with water daily.

Then we went out of town for a week over spring break…and all of our seedlings died. 🙁

Our seedlings were coming along nicely! This is the last picture of them before our vacation, which they sadly did not survive.

So, we started over again! But since it was warmer when we were back we decided to plant the seeds directly into our raised bed garden this time.

Our newly planted garden. We have 2 raised bed planters. We have a trellis in each planter which is great for tomatoes and other plants with long vines (like cucumbers and watermelons) to grow up.

We bought a few tomato plants that had already started growing because we feared we were getting too late in the season already to grow the tomato plants from seeds. We also planted marigolds. These help keep bad bugs away and bring in good ones to pollinate our flowering plants.

Week 1 – our first sprouts came up after one week
Week 2 – a few more sprouts
Week 3 – the kids are thrilled with how well the garden is doing!
Week 5 – we have a producing garden! The radishes are ready to begin harvesting!

Now, 5 weeks later we have already harvested our first radishes! The kids were thrilled to pull them from the garden bed, and see what has grown from the tiny seeds they planted.

We hadn’t eaten radishes at home before, and my daughter was the brave one of the family who volunteered to eat the first one. She took a huge bite, then another. I took a bite right after her.

Then she started spitting hers out, and I quickly grabbed a napkin and did the same. Ok, I didn’t realize radishes are super bitter and spicy! The bitterness hits you first, and it’s unpleasant but tolerable. Then the spicy hit and my tongue burned for a few minutes. Wow, I was not expecting that!

Our radishes might only be used for batting practice from now on… 😉

After watching my daughter and my reaction to tasting the radish my son refused to try them.

Does anyone have tips on the best way to eat radishes? Are you supposed to cook them? What did we do wrong? We have a lot more growing in our garden and I’d hate to waste them so please let me know how we should eat them! 🙂

We are still waiting on the rest of our vegetables and fruit to grow. So far everything has sprouted and is making great progress. We are trimming, watering, and watching over the garden almost daily. We have been saving our used coffee grounds and adding them to the garden about once a week. This is supposed to be great for the soil!

I’ll keep you updated on our garden progress throughout the growing season. Are you growing a backyard garden this year? What are you planting in it?

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