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Vegetable Gardening with Kids

Tips For Involving Children In The Garden

 

Vegetable Gardening with kids

Gardening with kids

I spend a number of hours each week in my vegetable garden.  To keep my six year old and three year old interested, and happy to come out with me, I introduced them to gardening from the time they were babies.  My six year old is now at school, he loved being in the garden. My three year old is more of a challenge, he would prefer to be inside.  I have had to work hard at each of these items below to keep my youngest son engaged and happy so that I can get some garden-based activities completed each week.

Mr Fresh and I both enjoy being outdoors and we involve the boys in all of the outdoor activities and projects that we are working on. It is a rich learning environment that allows them to learn and develop a broad range of skills and knowledge.

planting trees

A vegetable garden is a wonderful learning environment for children. We talk about food in our home A LOT! The vegetable garden acts as the basis for these discussions, the meal preparation process and also the meals.

potato harvest

How to involve the children in the garden :

Group activities (or garden tasks) together. Don’t start a large activity with the expectation that you will finish it the same day. Complete a little of the activity over multiple days in blocks of 1-2 hours.

  • This ensures that you are not outside for one entire day per week.

Don’t be overly concerned about the children getting wet or dirty

  • Let them to create their own games and activities. Provide “outside” clothes. Sometimes this requires clothes to be removed at the back door at the end of a gardening session. I also have an old towel on standby for drying off.
  • Children love to feel and experience the dirt, water, sun, wind, and all elements of being outside

Allow your kids to choose if they wish to be involved in what you are doing and help, or not.

  • They may choose to play in the sandpit, dig in the dirt, play with cars, or bikes, or play a game of their choice. If they are happy creating their own games let them do so and get on with what you need to do!

Carry the garden activities into the kitchen

  • My children enjoy collecting produce and then helping to prepare dinner with it, or use it in baking. That is another story …

harvesting carrots

Create a routine. Our routine for stepping out to the garden is:

  • Put on “outside” clothes. These are clothes that can get dirty without anyone (mum) getting upset!
  • Putting on sunscreen and/or hat in Summer months or a hat and coat in cool months
  • Put on suitable shoes

Garden activities involving kids:

Collecting, drying and planting seeds

  • Participating in the cycle of growing can be very rewarding. My 5 year old has been fascinated by the process of collecting the seeds, planting and then growing and collecting again.
  • The duration of the cycle is a wonderful thing to share with kids. It is a long cycle and provides the understanding of seasonality. It has helped my children to understand that all types of food is not available all the time, or immediately.

Planting seeds

Labelling and caring for plants

  • My six year old has been doing the writing on tags that label that plants. This is helpful practice for both his reading and writing skill development. It also provides a feeling of pride and achievement when these seeds grow the following year and he gets to harvest and enjoy eat them. He can look back at his writing and see how much it has developed and improved in the year.
  • Caring for the plants, and creating a regular routine of checking well being and watering helps children to understand that some things take time and effort before a reward (harvest) can be achieved. They are contributing to the rewards that the garden provides when it is time to harvest and take produce to the kitchen to eat.

watering herbs

Collecting produce, identifying readiness by color, and size

  • Using gentle handling techniques and discussing the characteristics and properties of that vegetable are all part of this activity.

Picking peas

Weeding

  • Removal and identification of weeds is an important part of vegetable gardening. I have spent time showing both children what weeds look like and how to remove them.  It takes a little time to help them identify vegetables at various stages of growth so that they do not remove small vegetable plants!

Mulching

  • Learn to use a shovel, turn the compost, identify when it is ready to add to the garden beds
  • Develop an understanding of  food waste and recycling from the kitchen to the garden

Identify garden bugs – pests and friends

  • My 6 year old likes to bring his magnifying glass out to look for bugs and sometimes his bug book to identify them. They both also love to collect and destroy pests such as snails from the garden and to collect worms to add to the warm farm. They have both developed a basic understanding that some bugs are helpful in the garden and some are not. They are gentle and caring with the worms and love to talk about what the worms like to eat, how they move through the soil and how they help the plants. They are not so gentle with the snails and slaters that attempt to feed on our plants…

Garden Worms

Establish the concept of gardening and it’s produce as a valuable gift

  • Create garden based presents for friends and family.  I think that this helps children to place a value on things from the garden.
  • We have gifted teachers and friends garden related gifts for the last few years at the end of the year (or food related gifts that we have made from our own, or local produce) Examples include the garden markers and seedling pots accessible via the links below.

There are many fun activities that can fill up your days in the garden:

"Mr Scarecrow" - named by Punky

These are some of the garden based projects that we have had fun with over the past few years:

Do you have any additional tips for involving kids in the vegetable garden? I would love to hear them in the comments below.

*This is a revised version of a post originally created for Easy Read Systems.

Kyrstie

 

 

 

A Fresh Legacy

 

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Coffee Body Scrub

Lemongrass Coffee Body Scrub

Nothing says “good morning” to me like the smell of freshly ground coffee beans. Add it to your shower routine and the day is off to a great start! Most of the ingredients for this Lemongrass Coffee Body Scrub you will have on hand in the kitchen already and it takes just a few minutes to make.

It is time to shake off, or scrub in this case, Winter.  This refreshing,  invigorating body scrub will remove Winter from your mind and body, leaving your skin soft and glowing. Lemongrass is fresh and lively, energizing. A gorgeous way to kick-start your day.

I am not exaggerating when I say that this scrub makes me feel like I am stepping out of a day spa after using it (well… if I close my eyes and don’t look around at the bath toys scattered around the edge of the bath and the hand towel one of my kids has shoved back over it’s rail, and the…) I adore this combination of lemongrass and coffee body scrub, for the way it leaves my skin feeling and for the way it kick starts my sluggish morning brain. The addition of coconut oil and shea butter to this scrub leaves your skin feeling soft and supple.

I am not a morning person.  I found a note amongst my Aromatherapy class notes that referred to Lemongrass as a secret weapon for non-morning people. For the life of me I cannot figure out why I haven’t cottoned onto this earlier!! It could have made the “baby years” years with my non-sleeping first child a little different.

Coffee Body Scrub
 
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A DIY Lemongrass Coffee Body Scrub. Refreshing and invigorating it will leave your skin soft and glowing and your mind energized
Author:
Recipe type: Skin Care
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup roughly ground coffee beans
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon shea butter
  • 2 tablespoons white clay
  • 6 drops organic vanilla essence
  • 10 drops lemongrass essential oil
Instructions
  1. Melt the coconut oil and shea butter in a bowl that can sit over a saucepan of simmering water, or on low heat in a microwave.
  2. Add the above oils to the other ingredients in a bowl and mix to combine
  3. In the shower - use wet fingers to scoop out a portion of the scrub and apply to damp skin in the shower.
  4. Rub all over the body, scrubbing gently in circular motions concentrating on "problem" areas.

Coffee Body Scrub

Let me tell you some of the things that I love about lemongrass essential oil:

Properties of lemongrass essential oil:

A word of warning – ensure that you use a high quality Lemongrass essential oil. Low grade lemongrass oil is prone to being adulterated and can be irritating to the skin.  (You can source the brand that I use by selecting the link)

  • Lemongrass belongs to the Gramineae family.
  • The oil is produced from the leaves of the plant, via steam distillation.
  • This oil is great to use for those who are overworked, or suffering nervous exhaustion
  • It is a wonderful tonic that is said to aid concentration
  • For the skin it is deodorizing, astringent and antiseptic
  • It has digestive and diuretic properties and an immune stimulant
  • It smells amazing!!

This recipe includes naturally sourced ingredients, despite this it is still possible for one or more ingredients to be unsuitable for some people. If you experience any reaction or discomfort (as with any product, or food) you should discontinue use immediately.

If you have a health condition (including pregnancy) do not use essential oils without consulting a qualified therapist. Essential oils are highly concentrated, at approximately 70 times stronger than the plant that they came from. They should only be used as directed, or upon the advice of a trained practitioner. Essential oils must be stored out of reach of children. This recipe is provided for educational purposes. It should not be considered as health advice.

*I am an affiliate of Aromatherapy for Australia. This means that if you use the links provided to purchase your ingredients you will be supporting my efforts here. I receive a very small commission that I use to keep bringing you fresh content and maintain this site. Thanks!

Are you ready to scrub away Winter?  Have you ever used coffee in skin care before?

Kyrstie

 

 

 

A Fresh Legacy

 

 

 

 

 

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Gold Coast Hinterland Songbirds Restaurant

Chef  Jasper Songbirds Restaurant (1 of 1)

Chef Jasper takes a basket to the restaurant garden in the morning to collect produce for the evening meals.  I love the thought of a restaurant doing this. What I loved more was that this was not a token inclusion of ingredients in the five course degustation meal.  Almost all of the components from the menu that we ate at Songbirds Rainforest Retreat Restaurant in the Gold Coast Hinterland were made from ingredients grown on site, including the vegetable stock, infused oils and salts.  Ingredients are predominately organic and if not grown on site they are collected from other local producers in the area, including the wonderful wines that accompanied the meal. The water offered at the table was from the well on site. That is what I call eating local!   I don’t normally write restaurant reviews here but the local food focus of this restaurant captured me and I hope that it is of interest to you also.  I would have loved to visit the gardens on site but unfortunately it was not possible on this visit. Maybe next time….

As a guest of Gold Coast Tourism and Queensland Tourism and Events I was fortunate enough to visit the Gold Coast Hinterlands last week. We visited Songbirds for a degustation dinner with matched wines.  The chef believes that a degustation menu allows people to eat something that they may not normally try. Jasper plans his menu based on the produce available from the garden and modifies the menu accordingly.

The restaurant has dietary requirements completely covered. At our table we had a dairy free, gluten free and vegetarian requirement, every chef’s worst nightmare I am sure!  We were all graciously and thoughtfully catered for, leaving no one feeling like they had missed out on anything (which can sometimes be the case when you require an alternate menu).  The restaurant routinely asks if there are any dietary requirements that need to be taken into account at the time of booking.  I can not emphasize how much attention was paid to this and how impressed I was by such care.  Each dish was explained by our wonderfully attentive waitress Bec, including any adjustments that had been made for the dietary requirements.

Each dish on the menu was fresh and interesting.  I attempted to determine which one was my favorite but I could not decide.  There is a little sample of some of the dishes below. My night photography is not brilliant. I apologise for not doing the beauty of the meals justice with my images.   We had a special meal and a very enjoyable evening.  Think 13 hour slow cooked Pork Belly and Velveted King Prawns with organic Fennel Rissoto….are you hungry now??

Songbirds Restaurant Degustation Menu

The Gold Coast Hinterland is a wonderful food region. The focus on using and promoting local produce and products stood out at each place we were fortunate enough to visit.  I definitely plan a return visit one day soon to explore the region fully. Mr Fresh was quite annoyed that he missed out!

Have you visited the Gold Coast Hinterland? What was the highlight for you?

Kyrstie

 

 

 

A Fresh Legacy

 

 

 

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Muesli Slice

Museli Slice

This recipe is perfect to add to school lunch boxes – it is egg free, and nut free and so quick to make!

Muesli Slice
 
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Add this healthy muesli slice to the kids (and adults) lunch box. It is egg free and nut free.
Author:
Serves: 15
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. In a medium to large bowl mix together the muesli, flour, seeds, dates, baking soda and salt.
  3. In a small saucepan gently heat the coconut oil, coco quench and rice malt syrup until melted and runny. Pour over the muesli mixture and mix until well combined.
  4. Spoon the mixture onto the prepared baking tray and pat down evenly with damp hands.
  5. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool in the tray and cut into 15 squares.
Notes
Pureharvest Organic Muesli is nut free

Have you tried making your own muesli slice? 

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