Saturday, May 11, 2013

Creating a Family Garden

My Mother's Garden, Summer 2008
When I was growing up my mother always had a pretty amazing garden. Some of my earliest memories of being outside revolve around the garden; playing around the edges while she worked or my bare feet in the soft, carefully turned dirt. I can remember exploring it with my brother while searching for summer snacks. Crunchy green beans and juicy tomatoes always taste better when you eat them still standing in a garden. At the end of the summer our kitchen would smell incredible as my mom prepped the food, canning and freezing it so we could enjoy it throughout the winter.

Daddy adding all sorts of good growing "stuff"
into the soil; including composted cow manure,
limestone, green sand, and rock phosphate.
Unfortunately, as much as I love gardens and fresh veggies, I never inherited my mother's green thumb. I'm not always the greatest at keeping plants watered or getting the most from them. I continued to get my vegetables from her garden until a few years ago, when I realized I probably better be a little more grown up and get them from a local CSA farm share. Each summer season we love getting a weekly basket of fresh, in season vegetables from our favorite local farm. We're counting down the weeks until we get to pick up our first selections this year.

But now that Big Brother is getting a little older, I really wanted our children to experience having a family garden. I want them not only to experience the fun of eating from the garden, but also to develop the respect of watching something grow from a seed to a full sized plant and to understand the care and process that goes into growing food. So we decided to expand our small, mostly herbs and tomatoes, raised bed into an even larger raised bed this year. And luckily, I can still ask my mom all sorts of questions as we embark on this new project.

Our picture lists of seedlings we wanted to buy. 
During the course of the week we read several children's books about gardening. Two of my favorites include The Vegetables We Eat by Gail Gibbons and This Year's Garden by Cynthia Rylant. After reading both books Big Brother and I talked about what he would like to grow and then made a picture list to take to the farm stand. (We'd already purchased some seeds over the weekend.) All together we decided we would grow pumpkins, cucumbers, peas, green beans, carrots, celery, peppers, and tomatoes. As we're still getting our CSA share this year, we don't need to grow enough to support our family but we'll be able to supplement what we receive.

We had a lot of fun selecting things at the farm stand. When we got there I realized our list might not help us that much, as the plants obviously didn't have vegetables yet. But Big Brother solved that problem by looking at the seedling labels. He was especially excited to discover purple peppers!

A few days after purchasing the seedlings, we were ready to plant the garden. We made it a whole family affair, and waited for Daddy to come home from work. In terms of planting the seeds, one way we got Big Brother to gently and carefully plant them was to say "Goodnight seeds, we'll see you again when you're a plant." He loved saying that as he patted the dirt. He also understood the seedlings were "baby plants" and he needed to be gentle with them. He enjoyed using his gardening tools, a birthday present, to dig small holes. 

Each day since we planted Big Brother likes to look out over the garden and see how things are growing. I can't wait for the first moment he discovers something ready for picking on one of our plants. Until then, I need to convince him weeding is fun. 


  1. I love that he is going to plant the seeds and then watch for the growth, each day will be so fun for him to check how much it has grown once it pokes through the ground. As you know we were never a big veggie family but we also thought that it was important to have a small garden of veggie and flowers so we could see how it all works. So important for them. Cute pictures.

  2. Thanks Tammie. Despite growing up with a garden, I like that we're learning along with him on this one. We got a little carried away and planted the seedlings too early, so now we have to be giving them lots of care at night this week. But, it's all part of the learning process.