Sunday, August 31, 2014

Parenting Resources for Starting a Grazing Garden

A Guide for Planting a Nutritious Snack Oasis


grazing garden
As outdoor activities ramp up with the warming weather, my girls spend more time outside playing in the backyard. A few years ago I became concerned with their snacking habits and their growing preference of processed foods. To create a balance in our family universe, I decided to plant a grazing garden for them to eat from rather than continue encouraging them to come back inside every hour to nibble on crackers and store-bought junk. I wasn't raised in a family that valued gardening, so everything I learned I discovered myself through reading Urban Farm magazine, various specialty books, and the internet. Here are a few of the parenting resources you can draw from to start your own urban grazing garden in the backyard.

Where to Place Your Grazing Garden
 
Start your research with reliable sources, such as the National Gardening Association's website. It was here were my girls and I learned about the light requirements of certain vegetables. Tomatoes, for example adore long exposure to the sun, so we placed our raised bed away from the picket fence and closer to our patio. The lack of other vegetation around the plants also increased air flow through the plant which stimulates grow and strength in the stalks to support our bounty of cherry tomatoes.

If you are planning on growing easy to maintain green beans and pea pods, it is important to plan on how the vines will crawl and where they will go. Depending on the variety, the vines can extend between 1" and 6" a day, so planning ahead is in your best interest. My girls and I use seven foot poles with chicken wire strung between so harvesting is simple, both sides receive adequate light, and the air is able to pass through keeping the plants healthy.

Parenting Resources for Choosing What to Plant
 
Sites such as KidsGardening.Org allow parents to read up and plan the perfect garden not only to fit their children's tastes, but also what to plant and how depending on the hardiness zone they are in. Great choices include a strawberry patch for early summer grazing, blackberry and raspberry bushes, as well as carrots broccoli. If you grow organically and without pesticides, you kids can pick straight from the plants and enjoy a healthy snack without coming in and out the back door all summer.