The Family Garden

The weather has turned the corner and the days are getting longer. You find that you and your kids are spending more and more time outside. Yes, Spring is here! And, if your kids are like mine, they are counting the days/weeks ’til summer vacation. My husband and I are always trying to show our kids new opportunities to learn something. We encourage hands-on experience, and create fun activities to help their little brains work their magic.

Last year, I asked my husband if it was okay to dig up a portion of our backyard lawn for a vegetable garden. We have a small back yard, and this patch was in the sunniest section of our yard. The kids were excited, holding their seed packets and ready for this scientific experiment.

“It would be a learning experience for the kids,” I explained. “They will learn where their favorite foods come from!”

My husband reluctantly agreed. He did have the grunt work ahead of him. Luckily, the neighbor’s kids were around and we had six little ones helping us dig up the grass.

My oldest chose his favorite vegetable, corn, to plant, as well as watermelon.

My middle son chose carrots. He loved carefully poking holes in the soil and placing seeds in every hole.

My youngest didn’t care what she was planting, as long as she could dig in the dirt.

Our harvest was moderate. Our corn stalks’ growth were sad looking, only 2-3 feet high, but they did produce funny little corns. Our carrots were a hit, and all twelve were gobbled up in a few days. We had two heads of romaine lettuce, the others were attacked by rabbits or squirrels. Our biggest success went to the turnips! And, just our luck, it was not appreciated by our children’s taste buds. Our small blackberry bush also produced giant, juicy blackberries that were fun to pick and eat right there in the back yard.

The kids already enjoyed our lime, lemon and orange trees. They also know how much Mommy and Daddy love the avocado tree looming in our courtyard. But, it was the experience of the vegetable garden that really excited them. This year we started earlier, since our winter was mild. We also planted more seeds and more variety of vegetables. Our failures of last year, just made us more determined to learn from our mistakes (forgetting to water, relocating seedlings too late in the growth cycle).

This Spring we planted beans, peas, tomatoes, radishes, carrots, turnips, watermelon, cucumber and beets. We marveled at the different sizes and shapes the seeds come in. We read the instructions of the time of year to plant these seeds in our region. We planted seeds in pots and moved them to a better location, hoping for a successful harvest. Each kid has their own pot, and they are responsible to watering it, if nature doesn’t bring rain that week. They giggle with glee when they see the green burst from the soil, showing that yes, their seeds are producing. Each plant has a different leaf shape, different shade of green. We even some seedlings coming out that we forgot what we planted, and we can’t wait to see what it produces!

So take this Spring as an opportunity to start your own vegetable garden with your children. Start small, even in a pot with just one plant, or dig up a section in your yard for a larger vegetable garden. I don’t know how much our garden will produce this year, I’m hoping more than last year. But, I know whatever success or failure we do produce, it will be a great experience for my kids.

And for great recipes for your garden harvest, visit Family Spice!

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