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Have fun growing a garden with your kids

Planting a garden with your kids is a great way for kids to learn where food comes from and may even encourage picky eaters to try new fruits and vegetables. Francis Zappalla, DO, offers tips on how to get started on your own garden.

Today's guest blogger is Frances Zappalla, DO, a pediatric cardiologist at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children.

Spring is the perfect time to consider planting a garden. Supermarkets and nurseries are stocked with small plants and seeds. Planting a garden is a great summer project for kids and teaches them where their food comes from. You may even get your picky eaters to try some new foods if they were responsible for growing them. It's also a great way to have organic fruits and vegetables on hand.

Let kids pick their plants and then help with the planting and labeling. You can do a fun craft project decorating the wooden stakes with kids' drawings of the fruit or vegetable as identifiers. Have the kids water the plants and watch them grow, even chart their growth for a little summer math.

Cherry or grape tomatoes are sweet and kid-sized. They come in a variety of colors – yellow, orange, and red. Carrots also come in different colors and kids love pulling them out of the ground. There is a variety of green bean that grows purple but turns green when cooked, which will impress your youngsters.

You don't need a lot of room for a garden; you can even plant in a pot or container. You might want to start with a theme, such as a pizza garden: plant basil, oregano, and tomatoes, or a salsa garden: tomatoes, jalapenos, and green onions. Plant an herb garden to use in cooking. Plant some peppermint to flavor water and tea. Peppermint, which is a great tummy soother and aids in digestion, also comes in different varieties like chocolate and apple.

If you have room and are adventurous, try corn or pumpkins. Sunflowers are spectacular looking and can provide the birds (or your family) with sunflower seeds to eat. If you live in the city and there is a community garden, get involved with the kids or look into starting your own!

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