Flowers

Flowers

Friday, March 4, 2011

Kids in the Garden

I grew up with a summer veggie patch. It was planted in late May and we harvested in August and into early September. Then, it was forgotten until the following spring. We had no idea about succession planting and everything was planted in 15-foot long rows - even the corn (no wonder we only harvested a few ears each year - corn should be planted in blocks for wind pollination!) We did get a decent crop of beans each year though (Top Notch Golden Wax bush beans) and it was the fresh taste of those beans that piqued my interest in the garden. They just tasted better than store bought beans. A rule which holds true for pretty much all veggies!

Years later, our kids have grown up with a garden.. They're still young, but it is an important part of their lives and they play a vital role in choosing what to grow each year. (No, we don't need 1000 sq feet of popcorn).. I also have a bunch of young nieces and nephews and they adore the garden. The first question when they visit is 'what can I pick?' I think potatoes are the most popular crop to harvest - who doesn't love digging for buried nuggets?!?

Even my 2 year old nephew likes to get in on the action. In fact, whenever he comes over - 12 months of the year - he always asks to go and pick something from the garden. I love that he knows that there is always something up there - tomatoes in the summer, greens and carrots in the winter - and he doesn't think that it's strange to pick veggies in the winter.

This year, I thought it would be nice to give them each a 4 x 4-foot plot in the garden to call their own. I've asked what each of them would like to plant and (no surprise) have enough seed for them plant. Jellybeans was a popular request, but I think most have settled on a mix of peas, beans, cucumbers, carrots and lettuce. Although one of my nieces just wants rhubarb and peach trees. Hmm.. maybe outside the veggie garden..?

I strongly urge anyone who has kids (or even teenagers) in their lives (or on their street!) to give them their own patch of earth. Include veggies, as well as flowers like sunflowers, nasturtiums and marigolds. We even add homemade toad houses, garden gnomes (an embarrassing obsession of mine) and plenty of structures to hide under (teepees, tunnels and such).

Keep it fun - purple potatoes, beans or carrots, lemon cucumbers, black tomatoes, French radishes and gourds (such a wide array - snake, birdhouse, bottle, nest egg, etc.), for example! Get them involved in all aspects, planting, watering and picking. Just watch out when you give them a hose - I've gotten sprayed more than one (I assume it was an accident!!)

For more info on gourds and gardening with kids, just search my past posts..

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