Gardening, Kids, and That Maryland Weather
I think it is important for kids to know where their food comes from. What better way, than to involve them in the gardening process?! This summer will be our third year with a vegetable garden. The first year, the kids were still a little too young, and I was still learning what I was doing to have them be too involved. The second year was the year that it just rained ALL SUMMER LONG. I’m not even exaggerating on the rain. We had flooding and it rained the entire summer. We would have had more luck with a rice paddy than a vegetable garden. But this year, the kids are going to have a hand in the garden.
Now, it is March in Maryland. So, the weather is quite unpredictable. But that doesn’t mean I can’t get a head start on the garden tasks. This past weekend was sunny (the rain finally stopped!) and I decided to tackle the weeding process to get the raised garden bed ready for the early spring vegetables like sugar snap peas, spinach, and lettuce. Adelaide helped me pull weeds and rake the area. Marshall “planted” sticks in the yard. I wish I would have taken a picture of it. He literally found every stick in our yard and stuck it in the ground! Thanks dude, so helpful.
Anyway, while Adelaide and I were clearing the weeds we unearthed enough strawberry plants to replant (any that may have not made it through the winter) and also extend our strawberry garden a bit. Here’s to hopefully having enough strawberries this summer to avoid buying them. That is, after all, why we are doing this – to save money on produce at the grocery store.
Clearing Spaces and Prep Work
When we were done clearing the garden space, the kids left me to clean up all the mess and drag the bags to the curb. Oh well, at least I got a little help this year! Once things were cleaned up a little, we moved onto planting seedlings. I have been saving egg cartons (the cardboard kind, not Styrofoam) to plant seeds. We placed the egg cartons in a shallow plastic container. I put them in there to contain moisture and mess to protect my wood floors since it is still too cold to put it outside on the deck.
Back in February I also planted some pepper seeds. I usually buy my pepper plants, but Adelaide and Marshall like those mini sweet peppers that you buy in a bag at the store for waaaaay too much money, and I have been unsuccessful in finding those in the nurseries around here. So, I saved the seeds from the peppers I bought and planted them in plastic cups. So far, they seem to be doing well. Time will tell…
I also had the kids at school plant seeds. Normally we plant some sort of flower seed, but this year I let them choose between watermelon, cucumber, or zucchini seeds. Working in a Title One school, it can’t hurt to teach the kids how to grow their own food. Plus, they were way more excited about growing a watermelon than a flower! While we were making the mess, I planted a few extra seeds. If someone’s seed doesn’t sprout for some reason, I can just swap their dud for my seedling. But, if they all grow (fingers crossed), then I will have my cucumber, zucchini, and watermelon seedlings ready to go!
Plentiful Garden Options
All that is left to prep in the garden area is to build some sort of fencing to keep the bunnies and the squirrels out. I neglected this step last year, and coupled with flooding rains, anything that did grow was stolen by the little critters in our yard. Apparently, our neighborhood is overrun with bunnies. Seriously, I tripped over bunnies on one of my runs last year!
I have definitely developed a case of Spring fever and I can’t wait to get the rest of my garden started. I still need to prep the hill where the watermelon, pumpkin, butternut squash, acorn squash, and spaghetti squash will go, but that will have to wait for another weekend. My back hurts!
The fruit and veggie run-down for this year’s garden include:
• Grape tomatoes
• Slicing tomatoes
• Mini sweet peppers
• Sugar snap peas
• Butternut squash
• Acorn squash
• Spaghetti squash
I also plan to plant cilantro, basil, chives, dill, thyme, rosemary, sage, and lemon grass.
Share Your Gardening Strategy
What are you planning on putting in your garden? What has worked and what hasn’t? I’m always on the hunt for new tips and ideas. Also, feel free to share any amazing (and simple) recipes for the abundance of zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, and lettuce that you get! As I create new dishes from my garden I will share them with you too.
At first the plan was for Travis to generate income after a month or two, or head back into the workforce for a real paycheck. But something almost magical happened. We have actually been able to INCREASE our savings, while living on one paycheck!