Parenting journey

Goal: Help your teen learn how to grow their own food

Teen working in a garden
Preparing your teen to grow their own food is a rewarding process that teaches responsibility, sustainability, and the value of hard work. Teaching teenagers to grow their own food at home can be a bonding experience for your family and will set them up for eating healthy and cheaply for the rest of their lives. Here are steps you, as a parent, can follow to help your teen embark on this enriching journey.

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1 | Teach them about the benefits

Nutritional value

Discuss the health benefits of consuming fresh, home-grown produce.

Environmental impact

Talk about the positive environmental impact of growing your own food, such as reducing carbon footprint and pesticide use.

2 | Start small

Choose easy crops

Begin with simple, hardy plants that are known for their high success rate, such as tomatoes, lettuce, radishes, and herbs.

Container gardening

If space is limited, start with container gardening. This can be an easy way to grow herbs and small vegetables on patios or windowsills.

3 | Plan the garden together

Research together

Look up which plants are suitable for your climate and the current season.

Garden layout

Plan the layout of the garden, considering sunlight, spacing, and companion planting.

4 | Involve them in the setup

Soil preparation

Teach them how to prepare the soil by adding compost and ensuring proper drainage.

Planting

Show them how to plant seeds or seedlings, explaining the importance of depth and spacing.

5 | Teach daily care

Watering

Instruct them on the proper way to water plants, emphasizing the importance of not over or under-watering.

Weeding

Show them how to identify and safely remove weeds that can choke out their crops.

6 | Monitor and protect the garden together

Pest management

Discuss natural ways to manage pests, such as companion planting or using organic pesticides.

Disease prevention

Teach them to recognize signs of plant disease and how to address it.

7 | Encourage record keeping

Garden journal

Encourage them to keep a garden journal where they can record what they plant, when they planted it, and track the garden's progress.

8 | Teach them harvesting techniques

Proper harvesting

Show them how and when to harvest each type of crop to ensure they get the best flavor and yield.

9 | Teach them cooking and preservation

From garden to table

Teach them how to cook with the produce they’ve grown, highlighting the flavors of fresh, home-grown ingredients.

Preservation

Introduce them to basic food preservation methods such as freezing, drying, or canning.

10 | Encourage them to reflect and learn from the experience

Review the season

At the end of the growing season, review what worked well and what could be improved.

Plan for the next season

Use what you've learned to plan for the next planting season, possibly expanding the garden or trying new crops.

11 | Inspire a sustainable mindset

Composting

Teach them about composting kitchen scraps to create nutrient-rich soil for their garden.

Water conservation

Discuss ways to conserve water, like collecting rainwater or using drip irrigation systems.

12 | Celebrate successes

Appreciate efforts

Celebrate the successes, no matter how small, to encourage their continued interest and effort in gardening.
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By following these steps, you'll not only teach your teen the practical skills needed to grow their own food but also instill in them an appreciation for nature, the importance of sustainability, and the joy of harvesting and eating what they have personally grown.