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Gardening for picky eaters

Michelle Maffei is a freelance copywriter covering a variety of topics both online and in print, from parenting to beauty and more. Combining her two favorite loves, writing and motherhood, she has found joy in even the most challenging ...

How to grow a garden kids will eat

Getting your kids to eat their veggies is no easy feat, but with a few simple family gardening tips, you'll get the entire family enjoying the fruits of your labor in no time. From involving the whole family in the garden planning to having them help prepare the harvest, unearth five tips on gardening for picky eaters.

Involve them in planning

Although it's tempting to section off a kids' garden, keep the gardening a family affair. Your youngsters will be more likely to help in the garden when interacting with you. "Our daughter is involved in all aspects of the family garden, from choosing what to plant, to coloring a garden plan, to planting, weeding, watering, and ultimately harvesting and preparing food from the fresh veggies," shares Anna Platz, Good Cents Savings. "After seeing the process start to finish she's very excited to eat the results."

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Cultivate learning in the garden

Your kids may take more of an interest in trying new fruits and vegetables grown in your garden when they are learning about them along the way, so make your garden a classroom, too. Take your kids for a stroll through the garden and explain each stage of growth, teach why certain plants are placed next to others and foster opportunity for your youngster's curiosity to blossom.

Grow kid-friendly produce

Getting picky eaters to eat vegetables is easier when the produce you're gardening is too yummy to resist. Plant fruits and vegetables that are popular with kids -- and good for you, too -- such as sugar snap peas, red lettuce, cherry tomatoes and pumpkins. You can also plan produce that kids will have to dig up, like carrots and potatoes, for a gardening activity your kiddo will love. Also consider selecting quick-growing pickings to keep your kiddos interested. "Go for instant gratification," suggests Sheri Silver, blog writer and landscape designer, www.fiorigarden.com. "Especially with young children, attention spans are short and you want to keep them engaged. Lettuce, nasturtiums (edible flowers!), pole beans and most herbs are all quick growers."

Make gardening fun

When planning your garden, consider making your produce plot a kiddie wonderland. "Make it fun! Plant lettuce seeds in the shape of the child's initial," suggests Silver. "Or, make a 'teepee' out of three six-foot bamboo stakes and have pole beans grow up and around them -- kids love to sit inside!" The chances your picky eater will try something associated with fun just may skyrocket when it comes to good-for-you foods they helped grow. The toughest part will be prying them away from the garden!

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Have them participate in preparation

When it comes time to harvest, give your kids a basket and have them help haul in the gathering. "We find our daughter is more likely to eat what we grow in the family garden when we keep the preparation as simple as possible," offers Platz. "Her favorite is to just rinse off a cherry tomato or carrot with the hose and eat it right there in the garden, but when some of the harvest makes it inside raw or lightly steamed veggies without a lot of extra flavors or sauces are generally the biggest hit."

Just remember when plotting your own garden at home to plant low level, easy-picking produce close to the side where little arms can reach. Because when it comes to gardening for picky eaters, including your youngster in the planning, daily tending and harvesting just may make your finicky feeder into a foodie in no time.

Read more on gardening with kids

How to create a winter garden with kids
A mom's guide to gardening with toddlers and preschoolers
Garden planning with your kids

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