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We’re excited to bring you another great article from LilSugar, a fantastic source for mamas who want advice and news about everything from packing healthy lunches to mastering the art of stroller chic. This week, we’re featuring their Garden for Kids.

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Want to encourage your child to grow a green thumb and eat healthy, fresh foods this Summer? Follow the lead of Burlington, VT-based mom Ariela of Sweet Happy Life, who recently built a toddler snacking garden for her 2-year-old son. Though Ariela lives in an apartment with a small balcony, she still found the space to create a green, growing play area and garden. “The idea for a snacking garden came from one of my favorite books on gardening,” she says. “It’s called Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots, and in it author Sharon Lovejoy shared the concept of an edible garden filled with tasty treats that kids could pluck off the plant and pop right into their mouths.” Keep reading to find out how to build your own snacking garden.

Choose Your Plants

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“First, figure out how much space you have, what size containers you can fit in that space, and how much sun your plants are likely to get,” Ariela says. “You can pair plants that like the same kind of soil/moisture and can also take advantage of deep/shallow root patterns to maximize your growing space. For instance, tomato plants (deep roots) can share a large container with lettuce plants (shallow roots).”

Ariela filled her planters with toddler snacks, including tomato and cucumber plants, sugar peas and snap beans, salad greens, spinach, carrots, and strawberries. For her own herb garden, she planted sage, basil, purple basil, mint, lavendar, rosemary, parsley, oregano, and thyme.

Plant Your Garden Together

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“Yes, this will be a messy process, but hey, it’s just dirt, right?” Ariela says. “And what better way to encourage little ones to eat their veggies than to let them grab a seed, press it into the dirt, and watch it transform into a plant they can eat? My son loves pointing to the seeds that have begun to sprout and shouting, ‘We are going to eat them!’ He’s also the one who is in charge of watering the plants and keeping an eye out for new seedlings.”

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Add Some “Magic”

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“I wanted to add a bit of magic to our garden, so each of our containers is decorated with something special,” Ariela says. “Rocks and acorns gathered during our hikes in the hills beside Lake Champlain, a pinwheel that swirls in the wind, a piece of driftwood we found on the lake shore . . . I also found some neat stuff online and at the garden store.”

Let Your Child Play, and Don’t Expect Perfection

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“It is nearly impossible to prevent a little boy from digging in the dirt, so I set up a little ‘mud box’ with dinosaurs and his favorite plastic construction vehicles,” Ariela says. “It fits neatly beneath his Step2 water table and lets him play with dirt as much as he likes without disturbing the plants.

“This is the most important lesson I’ve learned: relax, and don’t expect perfect results,” she continues. “Whenever we planted seeds, only about 60 percent of them ended up in the dirt. The rest were flung around the place when the munchkin discovered how fun it was to see them bounce on the ground. And when he waters his garden? Without fail some of the water is poured out so he can splash around in it or just laugh hysterically. All of this is OK. The last thing I want to do is constantly be telling him ‘no’ while we’re in the garden. I want it to be positive experience that becomes something special we do together every year.”

Learn More

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Ariela was inspired by Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots, but she also recommends Grow Great Grub: Organic Food From Small Spaces and Bountiful Container if you want to learn more about gardening in small spaces and creating a snacking garden. You can also go to Ariela’s site, Sweet Happy Life, to learn more about her experience and to watch her toddler garden grow.

How are you spending time outdoors with your little ones this summer?

Source: Sweet Happy Life

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