Last winter, Fiona and Violet watched a LOT of Curious George. I bought the DVD called “Curious George Goes Green“, which has 8 different episodes that all center around outdoorsy, recycly, gardenny, hippieish things. The girls love this dvd. Because of it, they started asking if we could plant a garden.

Cue my serious hesitation. I do not have a very good track record when it comes to plants. Particularly the “keeping them alive” part.

someecards.com - I probably wouldn't kill so many houseplants if they could scream for food and water the way my pets and children do.This. Exactly this.

I’ve tried, I really have. Planting from seed inside in the spring (they sprouted, but then I went away for the weekend and forgot to have somebody look after them), buying the whole plant for windowsill kitchen herbs (it just… I don’t know,  it died. Maybe I didn’t water it? Maybe I watered it too much? Cause of death is unknown. Poor little cilantro.), even my attempts at flowers lining the front walk stretched my abilities. It’s just not really my thing. But they so wanted to garden and compost, and so I reluctantly agreed.

I researched, and asked questions, and pinterested. I asked my mom which vegetables were “un-screwuppable”. I finally made a plan for two raised garden beds. We would do square foot gardening. I could handle this.

Building the beds.

We started a compost pile.

Yeah, it started out as just a ghetto pile of crap. The bin came a couple weeks later.

We planted a combination of seeds and seedlings, with big hopes. Lettuce, tomatoes, zucchini, spinach, cucumbers, snap peas, green beans, peppers, parsley, carrots, green onions, summer squash. Unscrewuppable? We’ll see.

All summer the girls watered and weeded and turned the compost and just generally kept an eye on things. On several occasions I thought everything was dead, for sure. Things turned yellow, and google told us they weren’t draining properly (they weren’t. The beds weren’t tall enough, and under those beds is straight up clay.), so we watered lighter, and less often. Our tomato plant started looking very sad, so (again, thanks to the all-knowing google) Nate said we should put coffee grounds directly onto the soil to help it grow.

Some of those fixes worked (the watering) and some, not so much. (Apparently I misunderstood about the coffee grounds, and started putting ALL my coffee grounds around the base of the tomato plant. That thing got huge and leafy and green and covered in flowers… with not a tomato in sight. Apparently the high levels of nitrate caused “blossom drop” and yeah. No tomatoes.) (Maybe I just drink too much coffee.)

I learned that I probably should have gone ahead and picked that spinach when it looked good, instead of leaving it just a bit too long. (Though I assume the rabbits enjoyed it.) (Also, when spinach starts to just grow crazy tall with no leaves? It’s done. It’s called “bolting” and there will be no more spinach to be had. Just sad looking stalks.)

The summer went on, and the garden (somewhat) flourished.

They wanted a ridiculous amount of money for kid-sized gardening gloves. So the girls had to make do.

Violet in particular loves to take out the compost. We recycled an old pallet that was out behind the neighbor’s house to make the bin. Well, Nate did. I supervised.


The peas did particularly well,
(on that twine I may have swiped from those boxes in the loading zone at Ikea)

though we did lose some carrots early due to curiosity.

She’s what you could call a “free spirit”.

This morning the girls and I picked all that was ripe. Peppers, carrots, peas, even a summer squash.

I’m hoping we can continue getting some usable things in the next couple weeks. Things don’t look good for the zucchini though. I was so looking forward to an overabundance of it. I was going to make bread, and zucchini pancakes… so far we’ve had a few small ones start to grow, but then the flower falls off the end and the zucchini starts to get yellow and then rots on the one side. Still haven’t found a definitive answer on the google, though preliminary research suggests it may be a lack of pollination. Also, no beans. Same as the tomatoes- plenty of flowers but no beans.

On the whole, I’d say it was a successful venture.

Though it doesn’t even hold a candle to the garden my mom had when I was little.

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