Posted by: Julie Schaeffer
Many families with young children enjoy exploring herbs because of their pleasant and surprising tastes and smells. Herbs are easy to grow, too. A window sill that receives at least 6 hours of sunlight makes a garden site. If you have never grown anything before, this is an ideal way to develop a “green thumb.” Just make sure that the plants are in a place where your child won’t be able to pull them down!
Young children will often eagerly eat foods that they have grown. Try snipping some chives into a salad – you may be surprised that your child will devour it!
Your family may choose to have a themed garden such as a kitchen garden, a pizza garden, or a sensory garden.
- A kitchen garden may include herbs that you can use for daily cooking, like chives, parsley, mint and basil.
- For a themed pizza garden, consider basil, oregano, and garlic. These plants come in many different varieties, so don’t be afraid to experiment!
- For a sensory themed garden which will have lots of different scents, try pineapple sage, lemon balm, or any of the mint family – apple mint, peppermint, spearmint, and chocolate mint are just some of the options available.
If you are beginner gardener, I suggest visiting your local home improvement store or garden nursery. Most herbs come in a 3- or 4-inch plastic pot. As the plants get bigger, you can transplant them into a bigger container. At that point, you may choose to place all the herbs into one container – most people like the looks of an overfilled container. If your plants get too big, simply break up some clumps to give to friends and family.
The herbs you purchase will have directions that indicate growth conditions (full sun, part sun, shade), watering guidelines (once a week, do not let dry out, etc.), and fertilizing recommendations (an all-purpose liquid fertilizer should work for most plants.) Don’t be afraid of cutting the leaves or stems. As a general rule, the more you trim the plant, the better it will grow!
Here are some of my favorite ways of using herbs:
- Mint in a fresh watermelon salad or smoothie
- Chives in salads and dips
- Parsley in mashed potatoes or as a breath freshener
- Basil in pesto
- Basil, thyme, and oregano in soups and stews
- Oregano in pizza, bread and salad dressing
- Lemon balm in lemonade, tea or fish
A children's herb garden will provide hours of enjoyment while teaching children about gardening and nature…lessons that will last a lifetime. I would love to hear your stories about growing herbs.