Sunday, May 24, 2015

Have fun growing a garden with your kids

Planting a garden with your kids is a great way for kids to learn where food comes from and may even encourage picky eaters to try new fruits and vegetables. Francis Zappalla, DO, offers tips on how to get started on your own garden.

Have fun growing a garden with your kids

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Today's guest blogger is Frances Zappalla, DO, a pediatric cardiologist at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children.

Spring is the perfect time to consider planting a garden. Supermarkets and nurseries are stocked with small plants and seeds. Planting a garden is a great summer project for kids and teaches them where their food comes from. You may even get your picky eaters to try some new foods if they were responsible for growing them. It’s also a great way to have organic fruits and vegetables on hand.

Let kids pick their plants and then help with the planting and labeling. You can do a fun craft project decorating the wooden stakes with kids’ drawings of the fruit or vegetable as identifiers. Have the kids water the plants and watch them grow, even chart their growth for a little summer math.

Cherry or grape tomatoes are sweet and kid-sized. They come in a variety of colors – yellow, orange, and red. Carrots also come in different colors and kids love pulling them out of the ground. There is a variety of green bean that grows purple but turns green when cooked, which will impress your youngsters.

You don’t need a lot of room for a garden; you can even plant in a pot or container. You might want to start with a theme, such as a pizza garden: plant basil, oregano, and tomatoes, or a salsa garden: tomatoes, jalapenos, and green onions. Plant an herb garden to use in cooking. Plant some peppermint to flavor water and tea. Peppermint, which is a great tummy soother and aids in digestion, also comes in different varieties like chocolate and apple.

If you have room and are adventurous, try corn or pumpkins. Sunflowers are spectacular looking and can provide the birds (or your family) with sunflower seeds to eat. If you live in the city and there is a community garden, get involved with the kids or look into starting your own!


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The Healthy Kids blog is your window into the latest news, research and advice around children's health. Learn more about our growing list of contributors here.

If you have questions about your child's health, ask them here.

Anna Nguyen Healthy Kids blog Editor
Sarah Levin Allen, Ph.D., CBIS Assistant Professor of Psychology at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Stephen Aronoff, M.D., M.B.A. Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Temple University Hospital
Peter Bidey, D.O. Medical Director of Family Medicine at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Christopher C. Chang, MD, PhD, MBA, FAAAAI, FACAAI Associate Professor of Medicine in division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Clinical Immunology at UC Davis
Katherine K. Dahlsgaard, Ph.D. Lead Psychologist of The Anxiety Behaviors Clinic at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
Gary A. Emmett, M.D., F.A.A.P Director of Hospital Pediatrics at TJU Hospital & Pediatrics Professor at Thomas Jefferson Univ.
Magee DeFelice, M.D. Division Chief of Allergy and Immunology at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children
Hazel Guinto-Ocampo, M.D. Chief of Pediatric Emergency Services at Nemours duPont Pediatrics/Bryn Mawr Hospital
Rima Himelstein, M.D. Adolescent Medicine Specialist at Crozer-Keystone Health System
Jessica Kendorski, PhD, NCSP, BCBA-D Associate Professor in School Psychology/Applied Behavior Analysis at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Anita Kulick President & CEO, Educating Communities for Parenting
Janet Rosenzweig, MS, PhD, MPA VP for Programs & Research for Prevent Child Abuse America
Beth Wallace Smith, R.D. Registered Dietitian at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
Emiliano Tatar, M.D. Pediatrician at Einstein Healthcare Network Roxborough Plaza
Jeanette Trella, Pharm.D Managing Director at The Poison Control Center at CHOP
W. Douglas Tynan, Ph.D., ABPP Director of Integrated Health Care for American Psychological Association
Flaura Koplin Winston, M.D., Ph.D. Scientific Director of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Center for Injury Research and Prevention
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