This is how we spent Fourth of July weekend, prepping and planting a long-overdue garden. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve gardened for years, but always flowers, never fruits or vegetables. We’ve had token edibles — containers of tomatoes and herbs, squash sprouting from the compost bin — but no proper vegetable patch. Not that I haven’t wanted to plant one. I just… haven’t. With our CSA, several farmers’ markets and lots of u-picking to keep us seasonally sated, it just wasn’t a priority.
But, as happens around here, Tess had other ideas. For her 7th birthday in December, we’d given her Lanie, the tree-hugging, butterfly-loving, camping-happy American Girl doll that Tess had decided was her vinyl doppelganger. Soon after, we read the Lanie books, and before March was over, Tess (and Lanie) had spent hours plotting a tiny stone-bordered garden and building a compost pile. Never mind that both were dismantled for other projects. The proverbial seed had been planted.
As spring brought rain and mud, Tess scrounged some old pole-bean and lettuce seeds (that we never got around to planting last year) and potted them up. Wouldn’t you know it? The things flourished.
Next came the books showing bean teepees, which got my husband the engineer involved. Then the farmers’ markets opened. Tess wanted one tomato plant, then another, then more lettuce starts and some pepper and watermelon seedlings. I kept buying herb plants everywhere I went. And, well, a garden was born. We built a lasagna bed, topping it with several years’ worth of compost (black gold, that stuff, seriously). That it took us until July to plant the darn thing is beside the point. That it got planted at all is my definition of a victory garden.
Are you gardening this summer? (It’s not too late.)
Copyright protected by Digiprove © 2011 Christina Le Beau
How in the world can you turn down a kid who’s asking for *vegetable plants?? Good for you for encouraging her interest in growing. She’ll be so excited when she pulls her first tomato off of those vines!
Kris: We’ve been on vacation, and Tess keeps asking about those tomato plants. We’ve had container tomatoes for a few years, but never tomatoes in an actual garden. There’s definitely something about walking those rows checking for ripeness. Now let’s see how many make it into the house.
It’s so nice to hear people actually reading the American Girl books and not just going buying the dolls and going to the stores 🙂 What a great way to live what you read!
Too funny, Ashley, because one of my conditions for getting an American Girl doll was that we actually read the books. And the Lanie series was a surprisingly good read. So good that we just borrowed some of the historical AG titles from the library.
That is a very sweet garden. I think there is a nice feeling when you pick food right off your plant, warmed by the sun in a whim. My 6 year old is finally able to really help in the garden. That also means the 3 year old and the one year old try to do the same thing and they don’t quite get it. It’s all good, we still get plenty and not too many green tomatoes with bites in them on the ground.
What an inspirational post! As a city dweller without so much as a terrace, I envy those with a yard (and sunlight!) to grow their own. Thank you for sharing.
What a wonderful update! It’s great to see kids interested in gardening and it’s wonderful that she took such initiative. More and more school programs are incorporating gardens into their education programs to help fix our broken food system and show kids where our food really comes from (other than the supermarket or McDonald’s).
This has been our first year gardening as well. My boys have loved every bit of it. Each of them has their own 4×4 garden and they were allowed to plant whatever they wanted in there. Was the artichoke not supposed to live next to the strawberries and swiss chard? Who cares? They had a ton of fun deciding which plants they wanted in their own spaces. We also have several other beds with foods that we chose a bit more carefully. I am truly loving it!
We’ve had a container garden on the back porch for a couple years, but this fall I’m putting in a 4×4 square foot garden. Next spring it will grow to four 4×4 gardens. It’s time for me to get serious about food production! When I move into the 4x4s, my youngest has asked for supervision of the containers. She’s the only one of my six kids the least bit interested in gardening.
You know I garden! I have not been keeping up as well as I should be with my home plot since the farm absorbs so much of my time… and the rabbits who live nearby took out some choice seedlings. My fence still isn’t finished, but I’m harvesting lots of tasty veggies. Always a work in progress, a garden. It’s wonderful that Tess wants to get into it… my mom’s encouragement when I was her age is the inception of my love of growing things to this day.
I love that you’re calling it a victory garden – that phrase was on my mind a lot as we got our garden started this year. Ours was also largely done with the kids in mind, and I have zero time to cultivate it, but those pole beans are champs!! It really is fantastic for the kids to have a vegetable garden so I consider ours a raging success even though it looks horrible – they have learned a ton from it! And we’re not into the American Girl thing yet (although the catalogs are intriguing to my daughter, she’s only 5) so I am inspired by your approach to it 🙂
Great pictures. My kids love working in the garden and are sooo much more likely to gobble up the veggies when they plant and pick the food themselves.