While I can not say that what I am about to tell you will make your kids devour carrots like a hungry rabbit, it should at least get them excited about growing and harvesting them. On a side note, sort of on topic, ironically, I have put some carrots out for the rabbits and they won’t eat them, only the carrot greens. The squirrels on the other hand, well, they will eat just about anything.
Here is how I got my two boys excited about growing carrots. I will get into a little trick my wife uses to actually get them to eat the carrots, a little bit later.
I built and dedicated a four foot by four foot raised bed, made from landscaping timbers that are readily available at any home center for a few bucks, for my kids’ carrot growing adventures. There is nothing fancy about this raised bed, as you can see. It is a simple square, two layers of timbers high.
Once the raised bed garden is built, you will need to add in some soil. Your options really are limitless here with any of the organic soil varieties available at garden centers, to the “create your own” methods. One thing's for sure, since carrots are a root crop you will want to have soil that is loose and friable. It will allow your carrots to grow more freely and give their roots a chance to spread out.
Your bed is set up, you have your soil in the bed, now comes the time to plant the seeds. Two years ago I gave my sons a couple of packs of carrot seeds and told them to go ahead and have fun. While they enjoyed that very much, the bed had carrots everywhere and some too close together. Neither issue resulted in a less tasty carrot or reduced amount of fun, but we did make some changes for this year.
Instead, for this year, we created rows for 5 different varieties of carrots and spread the rows apart about seven to eight inches. I had them lightly sprinkle each variety of seeds in their marked row, making sure we did not overseed any particular spot. I was keeping a close on the project (sort of).
So, as you can imagine, up to this point, from working with wood, to playing with dirt, to planting seeds, they were having a ball. What kid wouldn’t like getting dirty right?
Once everything was planted I would go out to the raised bed with my sons every other day or so and help them pick any weeds, making sure they understood, the raised bed, was for carrots only. My way of convincing them that weeding was a good thing.
Fast forward a couple of months and the raised bed is filled with carrots. I think the big thrill for kids about carrots, or so it seemed to me by watching my sons, was the fact they could not actually see how big the carrot is until they pulled it. This also presented a slight problem because if my older son picked a carrot and it was huge, and my younger son picked one and it was smaller, my younger son would want to keep picking until he had the larger carrot. I was constantly on “do not pick too many” patrol.
Now that they have had so much fun picking carrots, how do you get your kids to eat them? My wife likes to shred the carrots and add them to just about everything she cooks. It keeps the pieces small, and when cooked, they soften up so it makes it easier for them, I suppose.
I'll write about the onion bed in a future post :-)
About the Author
Mike Podlesny is the author of Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person: A Guide to Vegetable Gardening for the rest of us, the moderator for the largest vegetable gardening page on Facebook and creator of the monthly Seeds Club.
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