Summer project: start a garden with your littles

The experts teach our readers how to grow vegetables at home

It’s arguably the most popular hobby to come out of the pandemic, and it’s perfect for you and your kids to take on together. Even very little ones will enjoy scooping dirt, dropping in seeds, and watching the fruits of their labour grow.

If you have never tasted garden-fresh vegetables, you will be amazed by the sweet, juicy flavours and vibrant textures. As a bonus, children will be more likely to eat and enjoy veggies that they have grown themselves.

Here Canadian grower, Andrew Hendriks of Hendriks Greenhouse, shares some tips for getting started:

Pick the perfect location
Selecting a good spot for your garden is absolutely key, as it can mean success or failure. Most vegetables need at least six hours of sunlight per day, aside from the leafy produce that will tolerate some shade. Avoid areas that receive strong winds that can knock over your plants; same with places near too much foot traffic or prone to flooding.

Soil is everything
Hendriks says if you have poorly drained soil where water can pool, plant your vegetables in a raised bed or row for improved drainage. Wet soil means wet roots, which can turn into rotted roots. A mix containing organic compost, sphagnum peat moss, cow manure and topsoil will help make your garden flourish.

Keep it small
A common error that beginners make is planting too much too soon. Make sure that you have paths that allow you to access your plants to weed, harvest and reach the centre of the row or bed easily. If you don’t have the space, plant any vegetables you can vertically with a straight stem and stake into your garden or any pots. Tomatoes are great for vertical gardens.

Choose your vegetables
Now it’s time to choose the vegetables you want to grow. Keep things simple by choosing items that you and your family will enjoy eating. Hendricks suggests planting vegetables such as tomatoes, eggplants, zucchini, carrots, peppers, leafy greens and herbs. These foods grow in abundance and come in many different varieties, making them the perfect vegetables to throw on top of the grill and enjoy with family all season long.