Sunday, May 6, 2012

Digging in the Earth

            It’s that time of year again—time to get my hands dirty and grow some things. It’s such a thrill to see daffodils blooming and tulips coming up. My lilacs are starting to bud! Everything’s ahead of schedule because of the mild winter, though I hope this doesn’t mean we have a scorching hot summer.
            A couple years ago we built four 4 by 8 foot raised garden beds and started a vegetable garden. This is something the kids look forward to and love. Most of us  probably live on suburban lots, so what’s great about raised beds is that they’re compact and pretty much an instant gratification thing sinceit only takes a couple of hours. Plus, it’s cool to eat food you’ve grown yourself. My kids think it tastes the best.
            I encourage anyone to try their hand at growing some of their own food, especially families with kids. Did I mention my kids LOVE it?
            Let’s start with building a raised bed. We built ours in a sunny spot in the yard with cedar boards and got some soil from GreenCycle to fill it. Building raised beds may sound like a lot of work, but I’m actually a lazy gardener and didn’t want to dig up all that grass (and then deal with where to put it). I laid down thick piles of newspaper, put the bed ‘frame’ on it, and filled it with soil. Voila! The grass dies and the newspaper composts. Raised gardens also dramatically cut down on weeds, which sounds good to the lazy gardener.
            Now, what to plant? I recommend carrots, tomatoes, peas, and/or beans. Herbs are great too. We started seeds indoors last week, so if you go that route now is the time to do that. I always buy heirloom seeds or plants, so that I’m not giving my money to companies that grow GMO crops.
            And if you buy seedlings later in the spring, also look for heirlooms. I like to buy from independent nurseries, especially Garden Thyme, who sells heirloom tomato plants in the summer.
            Since I’m a fan of keeping it simple, some of my favorite gardening books are those written for kids, like Garden Crafts for Kids and Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots, both covering ways to get started on your gardening adventure, composting, and easy projects to do with your kids. Happy Gardening!

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