Hands dirty, a sense of real achievement, healthy eating and a new appreciation for food. These are just some of the reasons why you should encourage your children to grow a vegetable garden.

You only need a small space to start (one square metre or a window sill will do) a vegetable garden at home. Even if you don’t have a big backyard, there is a space to grow your vegetables or herbs.

Starting a vegetable garden is the ideal after-school activity. Get your kids off the couch and outside, digging, planting and learning. It’s also a great interactive activity you can do together. Share the experience of setting up your area, deciding what to plant, understanding growing conditions and timing. They will so forget their Ipad or Xbox even if it’s just for 30 minutes, a couple of times per week.

Growing your edible crops gives you and the kids a real sense of accomplishment and a renewed appreciation for food. Enhance their sensory experiences with the touch, smell and taste of a fresh tomato or parsley straight out of the ground.

Do your kids love Friday night pizza? How much better will it taste with their home-grown basil or oregano freshly cut on top? It opens up new conversations and builds closer connection between members of the family. The sense of pride as they tell you about the growing process, deciding when to pick the leaves makes for a great sharing opportunity.

Create a sense of responsibility and cooperative learning. Get them to commit a period each week to check on the garden. Get them to report back on what they see, what they need to do next, talk about the progress of different plants at different times.

Start by choosing vegetables and herbs that are relatively foolproof. Early failures will dampen their spirits.

Five vegetables you can encourage your kids to grow.

  1. Carrots
  2. Green Beans
  3. Lettuce
  4. Tomatoes
  5. Capsicum

Five herbs you can encourage your kids to grow.

  1. Rosemary
  2. Sage
  3. Parsley
  4. Oregano
  5. Mint

There are a few other benefits of growing at home. Save a couple of dollars here and there at the supermarket. The food will taste fresher and better. Everyone in the family will be less likely to waste food they helped grow.

Growing your vegetable garden is also a great way to relax, get fresh some fresh air and sunshine. Why not start growing your own vegetable garden this weekend?