In my opinion there are few things more delicious than a fresh tomato picked from your own garden, still warm from the sun, and red and juicy (not pink and mealy) ALL the way through. One of my sons, Nate, feels just the same way and has made it clear ever since he could say “fwesh tomatoes.” He’s always helped in our family garden to some degree, and values the bounty as much as my husband and I.
Our garden has grown quite a bit over the years, and since we’ve moved it’s now bigger than ever! Maybe just a bit bigger than we were prepared for. We put in all the plants we thought we would need and we still have a bit more room. As my husband and I talked about how we could use it, Nate came up with a brilliant plan. He wants the garden. I loved this idea. I really feel like this: He WANTS the GARDEN!!!!! We’re ALWAYS looking for good things to teach our kids the joy that comes from dedication, hard work, results, and ownership. Of course I really want his first go at this to be a success, so I’ve tried to give him a good start and some tips. Here they are:
#1 Soil Preparation. We did this together because his garden is at the end of ours. Our soil needed an extra shot in the arm this year so we added plenty of compost, and because we have a lot of clay we added soil conditioner and peat and tilled it in well. He’s got a good foundation. No point getting him started in dead soil.
#2 Limited Area. Keeping up with weeding, watering, and harvesting in addition to helping the family with other yard chores can be a bit overwhelming so his garden isn’t too big this year.
#3 Own it. To help him feel the pride and responsibility of his garden he wanted a wall around his garden. Can you tell he has younger brothers and sisters? My idea: how about some stakes and twine, BUT he could paint the stakes how ever he wanted? It worked. Phew. He likes red and green, so that’s what we went with. Merry Christmas to us!
#4 Choose your own crops…with a little help. He wanted corn. Corn is tall and would block the sunlight from MY garden. That’s not going to work. It’s also best to have a pretty good sized area of corn so that it will pollinate properly. So, let’s not start with corn. He ended up choosing an interesting variety. Tomatoes, carrots, turnips, cilantro, and… a pumpkin and a watermelon! I thought that was a pretty fun variety and he can hardly wait. Luckily we have an area at his end of the garden that the pumpkin and watermelon can grow into.
#5 Planting. Nate has helped us with planting for years but hasn’t ever been responsible for his own planting. I helped him when he needed it but mostly just reminded him of what he’s done before and checked out a book from the library for him. It always helps when information and advice comes from another source. Why is that? I’m a pretty smart human! Once he’s tucked in HIS bed tonight I am going to go and make sure that the veggies are safely tucked in their beds. Some looked like they might just need a little extra help.
#6 Chart it. It’s easy to get impatient waiting for seedlings to come up, or fruit to appear on your plant. If you’re a kid it’s even easier. We’ve printed up a calendar to keep track of what he planted on what day, whether it’s rained or not, and when he has watered. This way he’ll be able to have a better idea of what to expect from his veggies and why. It’s really just the beginnings of a gardener’s journal.
#7 Reap the Rewards. Time will have to tell on this one. Hopefully, in a couple of months, Nate will see and taste the rewards of his efforts. He can hardly wait. I love my little green thumb!
Moms and Dads, this is do-able! From running to the nursery, to making his stakes, to planting and watering, this took less than 2 hours. Find a spot of earth, or even a nice sized pot and let the little ones plant!