Family Routines: Gardening!
Small things make great routines!
One of my favorites has always been gardening. From the time my oldest was a toddler, we've been growing some of our own food, but in a small way. We moved into our house when my son was a tiny baby and inherited a major project in the backyard that made it nearly unusable for the first year. Gardening spaces were very limited!
I remembered, not so fondly, the veggie gardens of my own childhood. Being sent out to weed nearly an acre of kitchen garden, yuck! But even then I loved to eat green beans and other vegetables as I picked them. I knew that I wanted to give my kids some of the same experience.
We started with a tiny bit of garden in partial sun and grew just one thing, carrots. My son and I planted seeds in the rocky soil. We kind of forgot about them until mid-summer, when we realized there were feathery, soft leaves everywhere. He was thrilled to pull on the leaves and find a baby carrot!
As we could, we added a bed of herbs in the backyard near the sandbox. On their long summer days outside, my boys would sometimes get into the herbs. They discovered that chives worked like straws and would drink through them (kind of gross, right, but they loved it!). A neighbor gave me a wonderful, big mortar and pestle and the kids would grind up herbs into paste, tasting along the way.
As the years went on, one of our backyard trees fell and we were finally able to plant vegetables that needed more than a little sun. By then the boys were old enough to build raised bed boxes with me. That was fun!
We have really enjoyed the small experiences of picking our own food. Every year, we have harvested something, strawberries, sunflowers, greens, basil, tomatoes, hot peppers, and cucumbers. Usually we plant a lot and harvest a little, but it's enough. We enjoy eating things right out of the garden and have learned to make things including jam, pesto, picked hot peppers, and pickled cucumbers.
One of my favorite gardening rituals happens in the early spring--we plan together. As the spring goes on, we begin to eat from the garden. Just this week we just had our first 'garden meal' of the year--mint from the garden was in tabbouleh I made on one of the warm days this week.
My kids don't spend much time in the garden anymore, but I have a feeling they'll plant a garden for their own kids one day. And maybe start to enjoy it like I do!
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