And Now Let’s Get the Garden Growing!

Hopefully my post on  Dig Up 5 Great Lessons When You Garden with Kids has convinced you that starting a garden will be not only beneficial to your kids but also a lot of fun. You have also learned about the great tools you need.

So how do you get started? Let me begin by saying that I’m a pediatrician and NOT a master gardener! I have had plenty of puny garden harvests despite our best efforts (there is a lesson for kids there, too!).

I have, however, learned that you don’t need a lot of space to grow food with your kids, and you don’t even need a yard. With some sun, soil, water and seeds you will be well on your way to gardening with your kids!

Here are 4 different ways you can start a garden this year:

1) Plant Right in the Ground.

Find a sunny spot in the yard where you can plant a small veggie patch. Typically a spot with at least 6 hours of sun is ideal. Make sure the soil is fertile and drains well. Use the help of local gardening supply shops to find products like compost to improve your soil.

2) Plant in Existing Landscaping.

If your best sun is the front of your house, never fear! Edibles can be used with existing landscaping without looking messy or unstructured. If there is not a lot of space, consider using a pretty trellis or existing fencing to grow vegetables like cucumbers and squash vertically. At my new pediatrics office I plan on using blueberry bushes, kale, thornless blackberries and other edibles to replace some of the existing landscape. Kids will enjoy some of the fruits and veggies grown right in their own front yard!

3) Plant a Raised Bed Garden.

If your soil is poor and you don’t feel like digging up your lawn, a raised garden is a great option for growing a lot of food in a small space. Many hardware stores sell inexpensive kits made of wood or plastic. Snap or nail the sides together, place in sunny spot, fill with soil, and you are ready to go! Squarefoot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew is a great resource that can get you started. Their website has more resources to help you decide what type of soil to buy, how to plan your garden and how much you can plant in each square foot of space. A few years ago my husband and I donated three raised beds to our sons’ Montessori school and they have been successfully growing food ever since!

4) Plant in Containers.

Don’t have a backyard for growing? No problem! Edibles like tomatoes and herbs can easily be grown in containers filled with soil. This is a great way for kids to grow food without a lot of work for you. I love growing herbs like basil, thyme, oregano, and rosemary on my back porch in various pots. My kids have learned what each herb looks and tastes like after years of watering them and picking them for our cooking. Growing herbs saves us a lot of money too, as we can harvest them all summer long!

Lastly, don’t forget to decorate. Let the kids paint those containers with bright colors. Let them use colorful stepping stones, garden flags, and more to give their garden it’s own flair!

In my tomorrow’s post I will share with you the veggies that I have had the most fun and success in growing with my kids.

Published on: February 27, 2014
About the Author
Photo of Dr. Nimali Fernando

Dr. Nimali Fernando is a board-certified pediatrician practicing in Fredericksburg, VA. She is the founder of, a recipe and parenting resource, and The Doctor Yum Project, a nonprofit organization that empowers families with information on illness prevention through a healthy diet.

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