Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Planting a Garden

When I was growing up, we had a garden every year. We planted a variety of things, the consistent items were tomatoes, onions and potatoes. I can remember planting melon (watermelon and/or cantaloupe), pumpkins, zucchini, strawberries, and corn from time to time as well. In addition, both sets of Grandparents lived on a farm, so we had even more selection from them as well. I can remember getting lettuce, rhubarb, blackberries, and more to take home when we would visit.

There is just something so delicious about eating produce right from your own garden. I'm not sure what it is, but they are always sweeter and more flavorful. Perhaps it is knowing that you grew that fruit/vegetable, or perhaps it is just because it is so much more fresh than what you can pick up at the store. In my opinion, tomatoes are best served, slightly warmed from the sun with a quick rinse to knock off any dirt. Not only that, but it is a very economical way to enjoy lots of fresh vegetables. When you consider the costs of seeds/plants and the amount of fruits/vegetables that they will produce, there is no doubt that it is cheaper than buying that amount of fruit at the store.

When I grew up and finally had my own house, I was determined to have my own garden. Where we lived in Pittsburgh, it was easy. Our house backed up to a wooded ravine, so I simply planted a garden at it's edge. When we moved to Ohio, it was a little bit harder - we have neighbors and no place to handily tuck it out of the way. In fact, the first few years after we moved here, we didn't even have a garden - we moved in in July, not ideal timing for planting a garden and the next year I was pregnant. But then finally, we settled on a small plot next to the garage wall.

The garden has grown over the years. We have tried different vegetables, some with good luck and others not. This year, we planted tomatoes - big and small, zucchini, peppers - bell and hot, eggplant, and lettuce (came in the Kraft Food and Family this month). It's a modest size, but it works.

The kids simply love the garden. All spring they have been asking about when we can plant the garden. This of course has led to an opportunity for them to learn as discussions about frost and why we have to wait to plant a garden ensued.

When we planted the garden last weekend, they were both anxious to assist. Each of them donned a pair of gardening gloves and carried over their little shovel. They tried to help me turn over the dirt to make it loose and easier to plant, but with their little shovels, they mostly wound up throwing dirt around. Then, when we finally were ready to dig some holes, my daughter wandered off to blow bubbles and play, but my son was eager to dig a hole and help to plant the garden. With my assistance, I allowed him to dig the holes, place the plant and cover them with soil. Then, after we were done planting, came watering. They both wanted to use the watering can, so they took turns (not always in the most calm fashion, my daughter is not fully fluent in share yet) watering the garden. Then, I pulled out the hose to ensure we actually got everything watered deeply, so they would root well.

Watching a garden grow is a great lesson in life cycle for children. They get to see the seeds sprout and start to grow. They get to see the fruits/vegetables develop and watch them grow and ripen. They get to pick the fruits/vegetables when they are ripe and experience fresh, homegrown vegetables. They get to see the plants die off as the frost hits and watch us turn them under to fertilize the ground. They learn about how it takes water and sunshine for a garden to grow.

Gardens expand the food experience for children. There is something about growing your own vegetables in a garden that leads kids to want to eat those vegetables. My son will pick through a dish at dinner leaving behind any tomato chunks, but can barely take the time to clean a tomato fresh from the garden before eating it.

A garden is a great learning opportunity for children and a frugal way to enjoy fresh produce in the summer, and beyond if you can/freeze the vegetables. This works for my family.

For more tips and tricks that work for others, check out Works For Me Wednesday over at We Are THAT Family.


Bailey's Leaf said...

I have several posts on gardening and just planted our garden IN OHIO! with our daughter this weekend. We live on a city lot (40' x 120'), but have no garage so our plot is 10' x 10'. We've planted collard greens for our iguana, but K- and her neighbor friend, E- like to eat them directly out of the garden, raw. I say ick, but it works for them. They also eat all of the tomatoes that they can reach. I'm wondering if my pole beans are going to make it to my plate this year . . .

Good luck gardening!

Aisling said...

We're gardening too. Only one 4 feet by 6 feet raised bed and various containers, but our yard is tiny.

annies home said...

love gardening dad used to have a large one that we all helped with when I was a kid now my garden is much smaller but always tomatoes are in it