Last year’s garden yielded a modest crop of green peppers, one monster zucchini, a few cucumbers, a couple of tomatoes, and a barely edible watermelon. We did a raised garden and despite warnings against doing so, I planted everything too closely together. Nothing had room except for the green peppers, which got started after everything else had died off. We had a lot of green leaves, just no vegetables. However, the one barely edible watermelon got our little girl hooked. Fast forward to this year.
This year we planted a garden of the same size (10′ x 30′), but there are only 4 tomato bushes and one set of watermelon vines. The tomatoes have one 10′ x 10′ section and the watermelon has the other 10′ x 20′ lay of the land. This has worked out well as we’ve gotten quite a few tomatoes in our first round… probably in the neighborhood of about 10 pounds. Round two is growing as we speak. With respect to the watermelon we already harvested one and it was perfect, as you can probably guess by the picture. There are 5 more growing, one almost ready to harvest. Needless to say, we’ve done a lot better this year.
My daughter is the one most interested in the garden and it’s an area she’s been able to help out. Initially, the two older boys and her helped weed the garden until our crops really took hold, but the boys haven’t done a whole lot since. We have them landscaping the rest of the yard. *grin* She has been actively involved helping to water the garden, a perfect chore for her. The boys feel involved since they did a lot of the hard work establishing the garden: getting the raised beds set up, helping plant the garden, and then weeding it a couple of times. Fertilizing and harvesting is something my wife and I have been handling, and as a result, it’s something we all share in.
Because everyone has pitched in, it really has felt like a family garden. The kids were proud to be able to deliver some tomatoes to their grandmother last week from our garden. It’s been a positive experience, and when compared with last year, it has been a learning experience, too. I know when my boys grow older they are going to remember about packing the plants too closely together. They’ll have learned from our earlier mistake.
If you have children and have never considered gardening with them, it’s something to look into. Even if you’re an apartment, container gardens are an option, and that’s how we got started a few years ago. In fact, we still have some things growing in containers. For instance, our strawberries are in hangers on our front porch. We have rosemary in a small pot that could sit on a shelf in the kitchen or on the dining room table. We’ll probably do a few more containers as the summer months fade so we will have fresh veggies and herbs in the winter. Once you eat a good crop out of your own garden, it’s hard to go back to grocery store bought vegetables unless there is no other option.