Mateo and I have talked about growing a kitchen garden for years. With two young kids, growing our own vegetables has felt like a huge undertaking, so we’ve put it off and put it off. Finally, this year, I felt motivated to start some form of “eating” garden with Caleb. We cook together so frequently and discuss the origins of food; it makes perfect sense to grow some of our own food, and then cook with it.
In early spring, I started to think about growing strawberries, so that Caleb and Sadie could have the experience of growing, picking, then eating sweet summer fruit. About a month ago, we started small and purchased a bunch of organic seedlings to plant into containers: ever-baring strawberries, Persian cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and fresh herbs (two varieties of basil, spearmint, chocolate mint, garlic chives, sage, rosemary, and thyme…yes, I hear a song playing in my head).
I set aside an afternoon with Caleb, and together we planted our first fruits and vegetables in containers. It was wonderful to watch him first pull the seedlings out of their containers with his tiny boy hands, massage and break apart the roots, dig a hole in the pot, then place the seedling in the center of the hole. Together, we filled in and patted the soil around the seedlings, and then Caleb carefully watered them. When all was planted, we were both filled with a real sense of accomplishment.
About a week after planting our container garden, I was weeding our long brick planter out on our patio (formerly used for bulbs and other flowers; currently displaying a wide array of weeds), and it suddenly dawned on me that with some amending, we could turn this into the raised vegetable bed we’ve been dreaming of for years. Shortly thereafter, I ran out to a local nursery and carefully selected additional organic vegetables that would grow well in our sunny backyard (and that the kids would enjoy eating): sweet corn, multi-colored beets, dinosaur kale, purple artichokes, and sweet red peppers.
Caleb has proudly taken on the task of watering our vegetable garden several times a week. He seems to really enjoy this responsibility, and together we are watching our little seedlings grow into fruit bearing plants. Sadie plays her part by running her tiny fingers under the hose while Caleb is watering, or keeping us company while playing nearby at her water table.
Now, we sit back and watch our garden grow. Occasionally we’ll add some fertilizer, and I’ll sprinkle the ground with Sluggo, but apart from watering, there isn’t a whole lot we have to do.
I will be following the progression of our “eating” garden in this blog and you can watch our garden grow. We have already started using the herbs in our cooking (just this morning, we added fresh mint to our homemade berry smoothies), but over time, we will be cooking with the vegetables that come out of our garden. I look forward to sharing this magical experiment with you, since it’s such a pleasure for me. I especially look forward to watching our children become more and more familiar with growing their own food, and then getting to enjoy the “fruits” of their labor.