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Each year, it gets increasingly challenging to get our kids into the gardening mindset. Our youngest is 10 and our oldest is 16. The days of convincing them gardening is fun by simply exclaiming that gardening is fun in a cheery voice are long gone. They know the real deal. Gardening on the scale that we do it, while rewarding for an adult, is usually viewed as just plain work for a kid. Unlike adults, it's not an activity most kids would choose if asked how they liked to relax and unwind!
Planning fun activities to incorporate into your garden plan can help encourage kids who are expected to help in the garden, but aren't in love with gardening, to view it with a more positive attitude. One way to do this is to plant themed gardens. A pizza garden is a good way to get a large variety of "the usuals" into your garden yet have less resistance to getting help caring for them. Rare is the child who doesn't like pizza! Having them sit down and help you make a list all the ingredients needed for their favorite pizzas will help them see just how many of them can be grown right in their own back yard. Pointing out that many of these ingredients can be preserved through canning, freezing, or drying and used for making homemade pizza long after the garden season is over could be the little boost of motivation they need to keep a positive attitude. Marking a calendar with a promised family pizza night each month gives them a written commitment to your end of the gardening deal that they really will be rewarded.
You can take the idea of a pizza garden one step further and plant the garden in a pizza shape divided into wedges specific to each ingredient.When planning your pizza garden, think beyond tomatoes and basil. I've compiled a quick, but definitely not exhaustive, list of some ingredients you might consider.
Tomatoes: Consider growing tomatoes that are more meaty and less juicy for thick sauces that don't make your crust soggy. Including paste varieties is a good choice.
Pizza sauce seasonings: Basil, oregano, rosemary, garlic.Italian sausage seasonings: Fennel for the seeds (they'll also enjoy a profusion of Swallowtail butterflies visiting the plant), chili peppers.
Pizza toppings: Bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, onions, green onions, spinach, eggplant, zucchini, squash, jalapenos. Really, anything goes here! You can even make a list for fruit pizza ingredients. Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, cherries.
With a little creativity and a commitment to 12 nights of rolling out pizza dough, you'll hopefully have some willing accomplices in your garden this summer. Add in the bonus of 12 nights of family time at home and you're getting a pretty sweet deal!