Parenting Tools

This I Resolved: Starting a Family Garden


Editor's note: This is part of a series of personal stories on resolutions that worked — or didn't — in 2012.

A lot of things I used to do have fallen to the wayside since starting a family. This year I resolved to get back into the garden, and to drag my family into it with me.

We got off to a rough start when most of the seeds in my old packets were no longer viable, and we forgot to water the few that did sprout. Our second start was late — we were building raised beds when we should have been planting. But the kids enjoyed helping their daddy measure and “holding the lumber still” while he cut, and it meant a couple of spring weekends with the whole family outside together, even before we planted a thing.

Because it was almost June before we had raised beds built and filled with soil, we had to take a few shortcuts. Except for carrots, which don’t transplant well, we bought starts for everything. The tomato starts already had blossoms on them. I didn’t follow a carefully designed garden plan to maximize output, or stick to a list of varieties suited to our region. If it was oddly shaped or purple, it ended up in our garden.

Horticulturally speaking, it was not particularly successful. Many plants failed to produce, or died entirely. We certainly didn’t save money on produce, and our water bill was noticeably higher.

But by family standards, the garden was bountiful: our picky four-year old decided she liked to eat purple heirloom tomatoes; both kids developed a habit of sneaking snacks from the garden instead of the fridge; the whole family discovered that tuberous oxalis looks like fuzzy clover and tastes like potato.

And we spent time together outdoors almost every day throughout the summer.

gemmaalexanderheadshotAbout the author: Gemma Alexander is a Seattle-based writer with two daughters. Since the homegrown tomatoes were a hit, they've planted garlic for next year. Celery will stay out of the garden and off the menu.

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