By Ashleigh Welder

Do you find yourself searching high and low all over town for the healthiest, most affordable food to feed your family? For my family, we found the solution right in our own backyard. After reading about pesticides in our foods, we explored organic options for baby food and produce. Learning how far even this food had to travel before hitting my kids’ plates, I found myself spending more time at the local farmer’s market, which not only provided locally grown, delicious produce, but an opportunity for my children to meet the actual farmers who were growing their food. The more we exposed our children to the concept of “growing” food versus picking it off a shelf at the grocery store, the next step was clear: a backyard garden. You may think start-up costs are not in your budget, but we have a $50 Walmart gift card for one lucky TMOM reader that will help, brought to you by GardenTech Worry Free brand products.

My husband and I have had small gardens since moving into our first house, but this was always a small hobby and a way to get a few fresh tomatoes. Since having children and involving them in the gardening process, we’ve realized what a wonderful family activity, and learning experience, growing food together can be. The fact that the food we grow is both healthy and inexpensive is an added bonus. Sure, there’s work involved, but having the kids there as enthusiastic helpers, and with some help from the right products, the workload is well worth the reward. We try to avoid fertilizers and chemicals, since this is one reason for having a garden in the first place, but something was eating our okra before we could. This led us to look for an insecticide that was natural and safe around kids, but effective. Right at Walmart, we found GardenTech Worry Free Brand Insecticides, a botanical insecticide naturally-derived from chrysanthemum flowers, which are ideally suited to protect fruits, vegetables and ornamentals.

After a little basic prep getting the soil ready in a bed, the kids’ fun begins. Our 2-year-old daughter is quite the girly-girl and usually avoids dirt, but mention the word “garden”, and she’s out the door grabbing her shovel and rake, saying “check, check”. She helps pull weeds (we have to remind her,“just the little ones!”) and water with her little watering can, and only occasionally harvests tomatoes before they’re ripe. Our 5-year-old son is the real expert, involved in the process from the very beginning. He really feels like it’s his garden, having helped put the plants in the ground, watered them, staked them, and watched them grow. The closer we get to the harvest, the more excited he gets. Both kids are vigilant on bug patrol as well, and hate to see our hard work eaten alive. While our kids aren’t old enough to apply Worry Free products, the line of specialized insecticides provide fast-acting, effective control of more than 250 insects, and while it is tough on them it is safe enough to use around our children.

P1060081.JPGMaybe the biggest surprise about family gardening for my kids has been the way they look at produce and food in general. While many children look at vegetables as the thing to avoid on the plate, my kids, both of them, come to snatch them off the cutting board (safely, of course!). They see fresh vegetables for what they are – both healthy and delicious, and the garden has given them a perspective on food that will shape their eating habits into the future.

So in the spirit of backyard gardening with your little ones, leave a comment below to enter to win a $50 Walmart gift card from GardenTech® Worry Free® products.  (Must enter the email address box when commenting so we can contact you if you are the winner.)  We will choose a random winner on Thursday, June 14th.

Sponsored by GardenTech® Worry Free® products