As a mom, I feel it is my responsibility to instruct my children on the basics of where food comes from. These lessons do not necessarily come via a hunting trip and a visit to the slaughterhouse to see how Bambi becomes venison–that may be a little too traumatic for a newly-4-year-old and nearly-6-year-old. But it is important to ensure they understand that the grocery store does not magically produce the food we eat. In the past, I’ve utilized various tools, including trips to the farmers market, a tour of a local vegetable farm, by participating in a CSA, and a visit to the apple orchard to pick our own apples. This summer, however, I’m looking forward to a more hands-on approach. We’re growing some of our own food.
The idea of growing our own food isn’t completely alien to my kids. The woman who lives upstairs from us staked out a plot of prime real estate in the backyard and has had her own garden for a couple years now. This has brought its own challenges, as they have had difficulties in the past in understanding that while it’s okay for the gardener to harvest the crops, it is not okay for the kids to help themselves. (Though even I recall sneaking sugar snap peas from my aunt’s garden well past the age when I should have known better. It’s part of gardening when there are small ones around.) Still, they have benefited from the knowledge she has shared with them and their interest in gardening has grown.
This year, our garden consists of a collection of pots on my potting bench and porch stairs–container gardening, which has become a blessing with my current restrictions on bending and lifting. No crouching, straining over to take care of the weeding for me! It’s true, we will not be able to have a completely self-sustaining garden on this a scale. There simply isn’t the room to plant as much as would be required. But the supplementation it will offer will be refreshing, and the pride of growing it ourselves cannot be beat.
So far, my daughter has taken the most interest in the process, having helped me select most of the plants and then assisting in potting them. She also has taken on the job of chief waterer, a most important duty. Once the heat turns up, container gardens can require watering up to twice a day. They are not tolerant of being forgotten, even just for an afternoon. This is where I need some work as well. What a great opportunity for teaching responsibility!
I cannot wait til we have tomatoes and peppers ready for harvest! I can taste the fresh salsa already! In the meantime, it’s not too late for you! Seedlings (and beefier stock) can still be found at local nurseries and even chain stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot. Even a small selection of fresh herbs can be satisfying and add a boost to your culinary adventures. Just think of what you can do with all that mint! Mojitos… mojitos… alright, I swear there’s more you can do with mint than mojitos, but that’s my favorite use.
Why not set aside a little section of your porch or patio for your own experiment in where food comes from? There’s nothing quite like fresh produce just plucked from the plant!