Our Garden Project-Chapter 1

Growing your own food is a great lesson for kids. Over the past couple of years I have watched my kids learn about growing food, and learn to love the food they grow. Growing food does not have to be elaborate, and can happen in an number of types of spaces too. For many years, we grew only herbs in containers, a practice that we still enjoy every summer (see our post on Container Herb Gardening). After a pretty successful attempt at a fall garden, we are VERY excited for spring and summer gardening. Our fall garden brought us tons of greens like kale, swiss chard, spinach, lettuce, and broccoli. We ate a lot of radishes and carrots too. Our winter here in Virginia was so mild that we were able to let many veggies keep growing right into spring! In the past we have tried raised bed gardening, (see our posts on Our Squarefoot Garden). Raised beds are a great way to get started with gardening in a small space. There is very little upkeep and weeding which saves a lot of time. For us the raised garden was not a huge success, due to the spot we chose. We have one raised bed by our pond, and discovered that it is too shady for many veggies, but stawberries, parsley and basil grow fairly well. The kids and I spend last weekend with my mother preparing that bed, and plan to just grow those few items, along with beets. We have been slowly cleaning out the last of the fall garden on the side of our house. A...

Our Cool Weather Garden-Chapter 2

  Our cool weather garden has been a success overall. Let me first backtrack. After a few gardening failures, I was ready to give up.  Then last summer a crazy tomato plant decided to spontaneously grow in a patch of mulch near our driveway.  It grew so big that it needed it’s own zipcode!  The tomato plant essentially showed us that we were gardening on the wrong side of the house.  In October we removed some bushes, tilled the soil with some compost, and threw down seeds in hopes of growing various greens, broccoli, carrots, bok choy and radishes.   What then happened is that winter never really came here in Virginia. With balmy days and no real snow, our garden keeps on giving.  We had a lot of radishes right away, and then sort of forgot about them.  Just last week we found a MONSTER radish ( 4 1/2 inches!) which we threw in our salad. I have not bought lettuce  in months, and the kids love helping me pick greens. Every other day or so, I go out with a pair of scissors and a bowl and fill it with red leaf and butter lettuce, arugula, spinach, swiss chard and kale. I’ve probably saved 75 dollars on salad greens alone! The kids are now pulling out carrots, and they are sweet and delicious!!  The baby kale blends right into smoothies and the swiss chard has been used in soups and stews.  We are now seeing our broccoli come alive! What a great time we have had, and what a lot of veggies the kids are eating.  We used our...

Our Cool Weather Garden

                    This summer square foot garden was not the great success that we thought it would be.  We got a bit of lettuce, a few beans, peppers, tomatoes, strawberries and herbs.  Not a great harvest, for the time we put into it.  On the other hand,our container herb garden was pretty successful, and we continue to enjoy fresh herbs. A funny thing happened towards the end of the summer. On the side of the house we found a gigantic tomato vine which is now growing TONS of bright yellow little tomatoes. We didn’t plant or water it, and it’s a MONSTER! How is it that on one side of the house things are growing without any help while our garden in the backyard struggles?  I guess it’s like real estate-LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!  Our little square foot garden is constantly shaded by neighboring trees, while the side of the house it bathed in glorious sun.  We pulled out several rosebushes a few weeks ago and now we are trying again with a COOL weather garden.  About 10 days ago we threw down a bunch of seeds: carrots, different types of lettuce, broccoli, radishes, and spinach and swiss chard.  Now we have tons of little happy seedlings which the kids are happily watering. In Virginia the weather has gotten a bit cool, but we are still many weeks from our usual frost date, so we are hoping our veggies will thrive. Swiss chard sprouts                       Next weekend we hope to start a...

Our Squarefoot Garden-Chapter 3

                      Here is just a quick update on the garden.  I took pictures more than a week ago, and have not posted them until tonight.  I have not yet had a lot coming out of the garden, but we have been finally enjoying some wonderful tomatoes.  Our herbs have been growing well (until this week when things got really crispy and we were not doing so well on watering).  I love having the herbs just outside my door in the containers. Things that have grown well are tomatoes, herbs and a few strawberries. We had some lettuce growing well for a while, but that has bolted with the heat.  The squash, zucchini and peppers are growing well, but no veggies picked yet.  We got just a few beans (not many).  We have done better than some years but I’m still not convinced we put our garden in the right spot. A funny thing happened last week.  We have a compost drum (where we put our kitchen scraps) on the side of our garage on a little strip of mulch.  The mulch strip wraps around our driveway where there are very thorny, deadly rose vines (which my husband has been threatening to dig up for six years).  I had not been out to the compost drum in several weeks, and when I went out there last week there were these HUGE vines growing underneath it.  At first I thought is was a jungle of weeds, but as I got closer I noticed they were beautiful, healthy TOMATO VINES!   I...

Our Squarefoot Garden-Chapter 2

It’s now late May and it looks like some of my greens, like the swiss chard, spinach and arugula did not do so well.  I’m not sure why they didn’t take off.  In any case I decided to use those spots to plant other things like strawberries, eggplant, zucchini, squash, tomatoes, and peppers. I also planted some extra basil to supplement what I have in my container garden. The lettuce and flat-leaf parsley seems to be doing well. While our garden is getting established, our dear neighborhood swan Matilda and her new friend Henry (a.k.a. Monroe) have been busy with their 4 new cygnets!!  These new babies are so ridiculously cute, and we are marveling at Matilda’s skills as a mommy. While we check on our garden every evening, this adorable new family comes to greet us.  How cute are they?!?! Gardening is such a valuable experience for children, and I wanted to show some of my friends gardening with their kids.  What a great lesson this can be to learn where food comes from from an early age.  Kids are more willing to try foods that they have grown and prepared themselves, too! This is my friend Catherine’s raised garden which she and her girls have been growing in Texas.  This is a great example of a beautiful raised bed garden that can be enjoyed for years. My little friend Hannah is checking on her basil and tomatoes that she and her mom Victoria have started in containers.  You can tell that Hannah is very anxious to see her garden grow!! If you have pictures that you want...

Container Herb Garden with Kids

A container herb garden is a great way to dabble in growing herbs and get the kids involved with gardening.  See the picture below of my now 8-year old watering herbs as a toddler.  Here are a few reasons that I have loved container herb gardening for the last several years: Herbs are healthy and taste great. When you have a container garden, you always have fresh herbs on hand for your favorite dishes. The fresh version is often more intense and flavorful than dried. Growing herbs introduces kids to new tastes and smells. If they are involved themselves in growing the herbs, they are more interested in knowing how they taste. Growing herbs yourself saves money. The little herb packs you find in the grocery store are so expensive, and often the herbs are not truly fresh. Growing your own means that you have fresh herbs at a fraction of the price. Herbs can be frozen for use in the winter, too! Container gardens can be placed anywhere. No need for good soil, just a sunny space. I place mine on the edge of my covered porch where there lots of sun. They are right outside my back door, so they are convenient to get to. I often ask the kids to grab me what I need when I’m cooking. Because they are close, they are easier to water than if they were way out in my back yard. Using potting soil and growing in pots means NO weeding. Enough said! The herbs that I grow regularly: Mint: Great for fruit salads, ice teas and other drinks. I...

Pin It on Pinterest