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BACKYARD FUN: Children’s Gardens & Bean Pole Hideouts

By Jackie Burrell
Tuesday, April 28th, 2009 at 2:27 pm in Backyard fun.

Children gardening (Photo courtesy of the University of New Hampshire)
Last week, when we asked you how you and your children like to wile away a lazy summer (or spring) afternoon, the ideas poured in. Cindi talked about her 91-year-old dad’s vegetable garden, and Cassandra wrote about nature walks with her daughter and how much fun it is to explore plants, trees, birds and insect life.

We were so inspired, we pulled together three great ways – from strawberries to bean pole tepees – to get your kids away from the video games and into the garden, with help from the pros at the University of New Hampshire’s Growing a Green Generation project. Read on, then click “comments” and share your tips too!

1. Plant a container garden with your child. Little or no weeding necessary, plus, have we mentioned how fabulously easy it is to grow strawberries? Or plant your family’s favorite salad ingredients in a raised vegetable bed. Kids who choose the veggies, flowers or fruits tend to be more enthusiastic about tending to them too.

Children in a bean pole tent (Photo courtesy of the University of New Hampshire)2. Grow a garden hideout, such as a bean tepee . Take several fresh cut branches, about an inch around and up to 10-ft long, and plant them in the ground to form the perimeter of the tepee. Lash the ends together. Then plant pole beans and morning glories at the base of each pole so the vines can twine up the structure and eventually cover it with vines. (Tip: Don’t use sweet peas in a garden where young children play – the flowers are gorgeous but the seeds are poisonous if swallowed.)

Cook what you grow. Chunky tomato salsa, anyone? Or how about a cream of fresh green bean soup or spring vegetable salad? Or better yet, check out The Great Big Vegetable Challenge blog, written by the mother of a 7-year-old vegephobe named Freddie. Charlotte and Freddie Hume  decided to eat their way through the alphabet, from asparagus to zucchini – and now their recipes, detailed on the blog, are a cookbook too.

Photos courtesy of the University of New Hampshire’s Child Study and Development Center and the Growing a Green Generation project.

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