Friday, September 24, 2010

Gardening 101

As many of you know, we decided to plant a garden this year. My hope was that my children might eat more vegetables if they participated in planting and harvesting the crop. Unfortunately peas are still peas even if you grow them yourself. But there were a few crops that my kids would eat. One of those crops was corn. We enjoyed all three of the edible ears of corn that came from our garden this year. Which brings me to lesson one from our gardening experience: Corn is best left to the roadside vendors who have enough land to grow a corn maze in the shape of Elvis.

The other veggies that my children will eat are broccoli (I know...kind of a stunning discovery) and carrots. Of course, these were the crops that DID NOT grow well in our little family garden. We planted the garden May 1st. It is now the end of September and below is a picture of one of our carrots. How long can it possibly take for a carrot to grow? Did we plant baby carrots?

The broccoli plants in our garden are HUGE...taking up almost 1/3 of the garden. But below my daughter is holding the single broccoli flowerette that has been harvested so far. Not exactly an efficient use of land.

There are some vegetables that have grown quite well in our garden. Ironically these are also the vegetables that my children HATE! The first crop that we harvested was zucchini. I'm pretty sure that zucchini could grow on most planets in our solar system. But be careful, because if you turn around for a second they can get the size of a watermelon. By the way...don't even try planting watermelon. We devoted an entire section of our garden to watermelon and not a single plant survived.

The next plants to be ready for harvesting were the peas and beans. Of course my kids hate peas and beans. So for two weeks I had enough peas and beans for me and my neighbors.

Another crop that has done quite well are the tomatoes. Fortunately, I LOVE tomatoes! Growing up in Southern California my dad would take us out to the tomato orchards and let us pick our own tomatoes. I can remember eating them right there like an apple. Right now my cherry tomatoes are coming on like wild fire. Every day I go out and pick enough for a salad. Pretty soon the regular tomatoes will be ready and it will be salsa time!

Finally, there is one more surprising development in our garden. A lone pumpkin hiding beneath the zucchini and tomato leaves. You would not believe the amount of leaves and vines that are winding through our garden just to produce this single little pumpkin. But it looks as though it will be ready in time for Halloween.

All in all our garden has been a good experience. Even though my children didn't eat all the crops, they did enjoy going out and helping me find vegetables that were ready to harvest. And besides...gardening is in my genes. My dad was a master gardener and his grow box crops were legendary! :-)


Karen said...

I think that's awesome that you planted such a variety! The salad looks fantastic - and so do those peas! The lone broccoli flowerette is adorable :)

Steve said...

Hi Brad.

Great story. Some of it is pretty funny.

My garden is the same way.

While I get better at it every year and usually have better crops than the year before, I still can't say I've had a harvest that was worth the time invested. However, as far as time with my kid and the therapeutic value, my garden is priceless.

Even though it may not have produced a lot, your garden looks great.


Leanne said...

How to get the kids to eat the stuff they don't normally like: put the peas in soups and stews, grate the zucchini into muffins and sweet breads, grate zucchini into omelets.

When it comes time to cut the garden back, take all that green stuff, mix it with some dirt, coffee grounds, egg shells, ripped up newspapers and peelings and start a compost pile/bin -> it'll be like magic over your garden next year and you'll probably notice an improvement in output.

Potatoes are a fantastic and fun crop to try. The are very easy and generally fairly prolific and hunting them up at the end of the growing season is like hunting for gold in the dirt!