From Lisa Barnes
Not only did we set up a compost, but we planted some edibles. I’d been reviewing lots of great photos and ideas in Sunset Magazine and online on Kids Gardening , but because of all the animals around us (deer, foxes, raccoons, turkeys, skunks etc.) we decided to plant in containers on our front deck. I figured once we had some experience then we could see about making the investment in a true garden in the yard and building the deer fence. While I was optimistic I was also realistic in my green thumb expectations. I don’t do very well with plants and thus usually only have orchids or cut flowers indoors.
So my kids and I venured to the nursery with lots of questions about edibles and containers. We bought starts of tomatoes, lettuce, beans, peas, strawberries, basil and mint. All chosen by my children. When we got home we all got dirty and had a great time planting. Every day the kids have been eagerly taking turns to water the plants each day and look for anything “to happen”.
Well after about 3 weeks, my family actually ate a salad of greens from our efforts. Harvesting lettuce was really a proud moment for my kids and I. I’ve been writing and telling parents about getting children involved in the growing, shopping and cooking of their food. We all see how children (and adults) enjoy tasting foods at the farmer’s market and picking berries at a u-pick farm, but there really is a sense of pride when they grow and eat something they’ve nurtured. Both my daughter and son enjoyed the lettuce and kept pointing outside and reminding my husband and I “We made this lettuce, just right out there. Now we don’t need to buy lettuce at the store”.
Because we haven’t had enough the heat, the tomatoes aren’t ripening yet. However they are growing. Not knowing how big they’d get from our little 5 inch starters, we kept gathering sticks to make stakes and hold the plants. Finally we made a trip back to the nursery to learn about proper stakes and garden tape to make a cage. (I was asking too much of my culinary string). Also feeling bold we bought some additional pots for seeds my father had sent us. After about 2 weeks now we’re sprouting carrots, radish and cucumber too.
While we’re waiting on our veggies, I’ve found the perfect thing to make for the summer and use the garden – mint chocolate ice cream. (This recipe from Simply Recipes has great step by step instructions and does not use peppermint extract or food colorings as so many others.) I missed making ice cream, since I had such an old freezer (see post), so I couldn’t wait to make and share the taste of real mint ice cream (that wasn’t bright green) with my kids. We made about 3 batches so far as we have many birthdays in our family in July. In fact I’m going to have to buy fresh mint for our next batch, as we need to give our mint in the garden a chance to grow more.
My family has been really been enjoying time together in our mini garden (and the fruits of our labor). With just a few simple pots, dirt, and plants I feel good about practicing more with my family of what I’ve been preaching.
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler, Williams-Sonoma: Cooking For Baby, and Petit Appetit: Eat, Drink and Be Merry and lives in Sausalito, California.