March 2022
Growing an Interest in Vegetables By Teresa McPherson

Garden centers can help families to eat more veggies by offering veggie starts beyond the typical tomato.

“Eat your vegetables” is something most kids probably don’t like to hear. Heck, even a lot of grownups don’t want to be reminded to get their “5 a Day” servings of fruits and vegetables. And yet, research continues to prove that five servings per day of fruits and vegetables provide some pretty awesome health benefits.

So how do we make that happen? We need to start them young, according to researchers at The University of Texas at Austin. They found school gardens and lessons on using what’s grown in them helps get them to actually eat the good-for-you food.

Researchers worked with 16 elementary schools across Central Texas to install vegetable gardens and teach classes to students and parents about nutrition and cooking. Students who participated in the classes ate more vegetables per day than they did before the program.

Another great way to pique kids’ interest in vegetables is to grow or buy “unusual” veggies in the home garden — fruits or vegetables in a less common color or shape. This worked when my kids were little — not only were they more likely to try the “weird to them” fruits like ground cherries (a hit!) and passionfruit (meh), but it helped to open their eyes to trying new things. Heck, they were even fascinated by stalks of Brussels sprouts for sale in the produce department (not so much when it came time to remove the sprouts from the stalk, though … sigh).

Garden centers can help a parent out by offering veggie starts beyond the typical tomato. Green broccoli might not appeal to a kid, but what about purple broccoli? Or tiny cucumbers that look like baby watermelons? It never ceases to amaze me what new varieties breeders come up with. And since this issue is our edibles issue, we’ve highlighted some of these new technologies in “What’s New in Edibles.”

We asked our readers if their garden center offers fresh produce by way of a farmers’ market or community supported agriculture (CSA) program, and received some interesting feedback. While most garden centers cited tomatoes and tomato plants as their predicted 2022 best sellers, a few others said that candy, snacks, barbecue sauce and Satsuma mandarins were popular with customers. Click here for more.

Also in This Issue

Pottery has been around for thousands of years, so what could possibly be new? A lot! I recently connected with three pots and planters suppliers on what’s currently trending, what they’re working on, and what garden centers can do to sell more product. Find the article here.

Teresa McPherson

Teresa McPherson is the managing editor of Lawn & Garden Retailer. Contact her at [email protected].