The gardens so far

Posted by jdg | Friday, July 02, 2010

A good friend built my daughter a raised bed in a sun-filled spot next to his house, and told her she could plant whatever she wants there. At the same time, we got together with some of our neighbors and started a community garden in our neighborhood. I'm father to a couple kids who refuse to eat pretty much anything that's green, so this was done with some hope that seeing food grow from seed to plate will encourage better eating. The excitement definitely caught on, and for the first few weeks we were over at "her garden" every day to water the plants and check for weeds.

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I let her control what she planted in her raised bed, which may have ended up a bit crowded. How was I to tell her she can't plant broccoli so close to the brussels sprouts? At our neighborhood garden, we planted mostly herbs, tomatoes, and greens. I wasn't sure the tomatoes would have enough sunlight.

When we saw a watering can shaped like this, buying it was pretty much a no-brainer:

The tomatoes at my friend's house are well-spaced and growing beautifully. So much fruit growing already!

The first edible item produced by her garden was this single pod of sugar snap peas.

She was so excited, she popped them into her mouth right there:

A week ago, the zucchini and cucumbers were overwhelming everything else in her box. We monitored the size of the tiny zucchini and picked some basil, swiss chard, collards, and other greens and she carried them home in her hat.

A week later and the zucchini was huge. My friend called to say we'd better get her over there to see it, and when she peeked under the enormous leaves she squealed with excitement. There was a zucchini in there bigger than her head!

The girl could hardly contain her excitement when she saw the cucumbers were also big enough to be picked. She can't wait to make her own pickles "not too spicy, just how I like them." Even the boy (who normally prefers spending his time with the hose squirting anything but the plants) got excited about the giant squash, and he helped us pick a bagful of basil before we headed home.

That night, I dragged a chair up to the kitchen counter and let her cut one of her zucchinis into thin slices, and then we fried them up in olive oil and covered them in shredded Asiago cheese. I could tell she was less excited about the zucchini once it hit her tongue, but she did eat it. I'm thinking she'll be happier with the zucchini bread we plan to make this afternoon. We'd picked some zucchini flowers, too, and after I washed them, dipped them in batter, and set them in the frying pan I watched as a confused honeybee crawled from inside one and buzzed around the pan (I released him on the porch, unharmed). The flowers were delicious, and as I'd suspected the idea of a flower cooked like a french fry went over quite well. The next evening, I showed her how to make pesto with the basil leaves and we sat down to a family dinner of "green pasta." The boy was suspicious, and wouldn't touch a penne unless I scraped off the "green stuff." But he did eat some.

But I'm fairly confident that by the end of this summer, green will be one of their favorite colors.