2/17/15

Homegrown With Children

I have always loved gardening. It could stem from spending my early childhood on a farm, where my siblings and I would race through acres of peas, harvesting a few for a snack, or, crouched together in the weeds, watch our mother gather in wispy stalks of dillweed.

Even as a young wife, we had a garden. My strong husband gathered chunks of broken concrete from the side of the road that we proceeded to fashion into a patio, complete with a beautiful slab of harvested granite that we used for a bench. Soon, baby tears and moss filled the cracks and a lovely plum tree grew in the corner of the small, fenced in yard.

Whether we lived in a condo, a suburb or on sprawling country acreage, we grew a garden. It might have been simply a few pots on a terrace, but always we have grown a little patch of food and flowers.


It has been natural to involve my children in the process. Sometimes it is a chore in exchange for a reward; "You fill up this bucket with weeds, and then you can swim", are words I have uttered many times. Sometimes though, their excitement about the process takes over and they stake a claim on a spot of land in order to plant some of their own seeds.


Seed planting time is upon us again. For a fraction of the cost of buying plants at a nursery, I can start tomatoes, peppers and eggplants from seed, so that when the days get long and warm, the plants are ready to put in the ground. My two youngest children saw the box of seed packets come out of the cupboard and eagerly joined in the fun.



I used empty egg cartons as planters for them. The type made from paper are ideal, as they will simply dissolve when planted, leaving the roots of the small plant undisturbed. The foam carton is fine also though, it will just take a bit more finesse to transplant.

I had some extra seeds which I gave them to plant. Some years, I will let my children start a variety of seeds, but with the time we had available I simply gave them each one type. They may have shared a little which will make the sprouting a fun mystery. I think I can tell cilantro and chamomile apart. I hope.


We typically plant open-pollinated seeds. This means they are not GMO. This also means that I can save my seeds and replant next year. I often have squash and tomatoes volunteer from previous years,  and my poolside becomes a small jungle of cherry tomatoes which have volunteered from previous years.

The only caution on using open pollinated seeds is that my squashes seem to be cross breeding. I started the year with zucchinis and pumpkins and by the next year I had a strange monster of a cross that we nicknamed pumpkini and promptly shredded for zucchini bread. We also planted melons and cucumbers but then ended up with some strange, sweet vegetable that looked like an oversized armenian cuke.



Aside from the discovery of new breeds of vegetables, there are so many benefits to be gained while gardening as a family. My children love vegetables. They love tiny carrots fresh from the dirt, and home dug potatoes, discovered like buried treasure. We learn to work as a team, and we see the wonder of Creation on display in so many lovely details.

Gardening can be hard work, but it is work that is so rewarding, and the rewards multiply when you have a few small friends to work with.

Our favorite seed companies;
Bountiful Gardens

Peaceful Valley Farms

A Great Book on Gardening With Children-
Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots: Gardening Together with Children 

This post contains affiliate links.





4 comments:

  1. Pumkini! Ha! That is so fascinating, and a little weird ;) Who knows you could come up with a new flavorful vegetable that is the next big thing. I really miss gardening. I can't wait to get back into it when we get a house.

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  2. Oh my kids would be all over this! We just planted another palm in our backyard :)

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  3. My kids would have so much fun doing this. I'm a former science teacher so I love all the cross-pollinating! So cool. I can't wait for spring here in Illinois!

    Blessings-
    Christine

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  4. I love gardening too although I have never had a new variety grow. How fun. I must not have had open pollinated seeds.

    It is awesome that you are sharing your love with your kiddos.

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