Gardening: The Ultimate Family Project

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Today I woke up absolutely giddy.  Well actually, I woke up several times during the night SO EXCITED!  The reason?  Our garden is officially planted.  I absolutely love gardening and this time of year gets me so excited about it.  I was worried that our garden wouldn’t happen this year, but we took advantage of a few days where I felt good and knocked it all out.  I love picking out seeds, digging in the dirt, laying out the hoses, and then eagerly anticipating watching the seedlings sprout.  Lucky for us, our cool season crops are doing great, so we won’t have too much longer to wait before we get to start enjoying all our work (peas, spinach, lettuce, kale, carrots).

My favorite flowers to grow – zinnias (so simple to start from seed)

As we were out digging, I began to get particularly nostalgic.  I remembered working out in the garden with my parents and brothers growing up, seemingly endless rows of weeding to tackle.  It was such a pain then, yet something I love doing with my kids.  As we worked, they happily played in the dirt with us, carefully inspecting each earthworm and dumping too many seeds into many of the holes.  With the promise of ice cream when the job was done, they were happy to help (mostly) and I was thrilled to have them working with us.  Mason was sharing all his gardening knowledge with Chloe, telling her what each plant would look like and which were going to be the best to eat (cherry tomatoes were the winner, squash the loser).  It made me realize that gardening really is the ULTIMATE family project (and we would know because we always seem to have some sort of project going on at our house).

The kids with their sunflower patch last summer – HUGE

Here’s why gardening is great for families:

1.  It’s a big job, and requires lots of working together.  There is no possible chance that   our garden would be successful if I did it all.

2.  It teaches kids how to work.  Not just the typical clean your room job, but a long-term stewardship.  We let each of our kids pick something to plant and they are responsible for taking care of it.  This years choice – pumpkins and sunflowers.

3.  It teaches kids about real life.  No, food does not magically appear at the grocery store – it’s a long process to get it there.  Our kids love watching their plants grow and showing them to their friends when they come over.  They understand more of their place in the world.

4.  It teaches patience.  Oh, this one is hard…but so good.  I feel like we all savor that first tomato more just because we’ve waited so long to eat it.  We’ve planted it, feed it, watered it, and because of all that care, the reward is even sweeter.

Okay, it’s true…I’m a total nerd about my garden (blame my mom), but this time of year is magical!  Everyone is happy and I’m looking forward to a great project we can all work together on for the summer!  Thinking of gardening?  Act fast!  In many areas, you need to plant within the next few weeks to make sure that your garden has enough time to grow before fall.

Mason showing off his freshly picked raspberries

If you want more tips on gardening with your kids, check out this post we wrote last year.

Also, here are a few tips that make our garden MUCH more successful.
1.  Automatic watering system.  We have zones on our sprinkler system set up to water our garden using soaker hoses.  There’s no way we would keep it alive with all our trips if we didn’t have this.  If you don’t have a sprinkler system, there are timers that you can set up  on your spigot to automatically turn on/off your water.

2.  We lay black plastic down on our garden to help cut back on weeds.  Since our garden is very big, this is critical.  We over the whole thing in plastic, stake it down, and then cut holes or rows for where we plant.  This also helps facilitate our adventures because we know that we won’t come home from a trip to a weeks worth of weeding…just a full day!  If you don’t want to use plastic, you can always use your lawn clippings to mulch around the base of the plants, which not only reduces weeds, it helps the soil retain moisture.

3.  Automatic watering system…okay, this one is big!


  • shawna says:

    We have a lot of catching up to do on our garden :/ …great ideas here!

  • bringthekids says:

    Don’t worry, you still have a couple weeks. I’m sure your kids are DYING to help you!

  • Em says:

    So you never had a problem with the raspberries becoming invasive? We just planted some, and I heard about that happening, but I just want a good crop of berries! Also… the soaker hoses… we have a drip system going… half of the plants are thriving and half are dying. Maybe we need more water per gallon, and more drippers. This is kind of hard! Some stuff is doing AWESOME and most of it is just dying! (Seed transplants started indoors. How do you do that successfully?!)

    • bringthekids says:

      Our raspberries do spread quite a bit, but they’re in a confined area where they won’t be able to spread out. We are hoping that they fill the area totally since we LOVE them. Also, it sounds like your problem is with hardening off (at least we’ve had similar problems). Basically, you have to gradually adjust your plants to being outside or it’s too harsh on them and they die. It’s a pretty intensive process and we’ve never had much luck with it. Because of that we either start things from seed or just buy plants (some flowers, peppers, and tomatoes)

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