Saturday, August 3, 2013

Family Garden Family Fun

Wrote a little something tonight for a writing sample. Thought I'd post it here. I posted a few pics that I had casually taken with my phone... don't mind the crappy quality, sorry!

I’m all about family fun! Gardening is fun! Whether a master gardener, just starting out, or somewhere in between, gardening is a family activity everyone can participate in. It’s important to teach our children where food comes from, and I’m not talking about the grocery store. We love learning by visiting farmers markets, taking local farm tours, and of course gardening…so that we can watch our own food grow.
                If you are already gardening, the easiest way to incorporate your children is by giving them their own plot of land. I love square foot gardening and you can even give your children their own 3’x3’ plot. If you are just starting out, let them man a few squares of your bigger box. Older kids can research growing schedules and everyone can pick what they want to grow. (Some of our favorites include: carrots, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, sugar snap peas, green beans and the fast growing radishes…though no one will ever eat them once they are picked!) If you are short on space try your hand at container gardening. I love to use old whisky barrels as planters but you can even upcycle your old plastic bins by just drilling holes in the bottom and filling with gravel and soil.

Our deck container garden (when it was first planted)

                Plant your seeds or transplants and you are off to a great start. My 2 year old is a master weeder and my 5 year old takes pride in watering the plants when they need it. We check our plants on a daily basis (most often in our PJ’s as soon as everyone wakes up). We’ve been having fun with our cherry tomatoes this year. We planted transplants from a local gardening store and they quickly grew to the size of my 2 year old. A week later they were as tall as my 5 year old. Not much longer they were taller than mommy and daddy too! They are currently a good 12-15 feet tall and an almost nightly discussion topic at our dinner table. 

Kids exploring our Wild Plum tree

In a month or two comes the harvest! Harvesting is by far the most coveted gardening activity in our household. We take turns picking ripe veggies and then either enjoy an immediate snack or integrate that day’s pickings into our dinner meal. A handful of fresh homegrown cherry tomatoes just can’t be beat!
                Lastly, gardening can be a fun learning experience too. Let older kids journal about their experiences for the perfect homeschool unit. Draw pictures, track planting and harvesting dates, and record successes and unfortunate failures. You could even start your own compost bin. Year after year you can expand your garden, figure out varieties that work well and your kids can take more leadership in the family garden. 

A cucumber failure

                 Get gardening and get your kids involved! You can start with a very small investment and learn a useful skill alongside your children. In no time you will have excited children and fresh (healthy) veggies to eat.