“Mom, where does the grocery store get all the fruit and vegetables?” asked my oldest daughter one afternoon. I explained how it comes from different farms that sell to the grocery store and then the grocery store sells it to us. “Huh.” she said, pondering it for a minute. “Think we could grow vegetables and fruit in our yard so we don’t always have to go to the grocery store?” Excitement filled the faces of my three kids as I agreed. “Yes. Let’s do it. Let’s try to grow a garden.”
Uh oh. I have now set the expectation that we will, indeed, grow a garden in our yard and yet I knew nothing about gardening. I have a hard time keeping indoor plants alive. Will my lack of green thumb would let my kids down?
Regardless of the outcome, this would be a good lesson for the kids. So we embarked on our adventure.
Since my daughter came up with the idea in the spring, we decided to plant seeds inside in starter containers. The New England spring is fickle and mean. We could get a frost into the middle of May and all the seedlings would be destroyed. So we set up little containers in our sunroom and planted the seeds. Per the instructions, we covered the planter after watering it. About a week later the first seeds had sprouted! We officially started growing sunflowers, carrots, peas, cucumbers and strawberries.
Now we had baby plants, but no place to put them. My handy husband took on this task and had our son help build a garden box. This was a fun project and turned out to be a great bonding time for them. My son was allowed to help hammer the nails and was very proud of what he accomplished. After we found the perfect sunny spot for the garden box, I filled it with soil and compost. The weekend after Mother’s Day, we transferred the plants that had started to grow inside. We also added a few other plants like Kale, tomatoes, basil, mint, rosemary, radish seeds and per my son’s request – Okra seeds.
Okra did not produce as much as we wanted, probably because they are native to warmer climates. But the plants grew very tall and we enjoyed a few Okras. The other crops flourished. The kids and I were able to put together a salad for dinner a few times a week just by using items in our garden. We picked peas, strawberries and kale as our snacks. They liked the healthy food and I was stoked they were eating vegetables as snacks. (I also liked the fact I saved money at the grocery store). Win-Win if you ask me!
This year the kids couldn’t wait to plant food in the garden again. They’ve learned the valuable lesson of patience and know that hard work and dedication truly pays off.
It’s not too late to start a garden, especially if you start with plants vs seeds. If you don’t have the room for a garden bed in your yard, there are plenty of other options. Garden towers are a great option for limited space. A more cost efficient way would be using large paint buckets for tomatoes, potatoes, beets, carrots or peppers. You can use pots for herbs such as basil and mint.
What plants and vegetables do you grow with your kids?
*Photo Credit for tomatoes- Morguefile