Growing with vegetables

“What’s a person called who takes care of plants?”
“Like a gardener?”
“How about a botanist?”
“Oh, yeah! I’m going to be a botanist when I grow up”

Our kitchen counter is currently an experiment in botany. Cradled in the vast sunlight of the afternoon are just over 60 tiny seedlings. All of them are tended by The Bear (with some supervision). This is the first time that we’ve planted from seed.

The snow hasn’t fully melted and I’m already filled with a great sense of satisfaction watching our vegetable plants and annual flowers fill out their first leaves. The experience has been enriched by The Bear’s involvement. She has taken care of the watering and monitors the surface of the soil for new buds. Daily, we look at our little chart that tells us which seeds are in which starter pot. We examine the soil to observe what came up quickly (the cherry tomatoes) and which seeds have taken weeks to surface (peppers).

It’s no secret that involving children in the growing of food makes them both knowledgeable and appreciative of where food comes from. Not to mention that The Bear is learning to love vegetables rather than see them as an adversary on her dinner plate. There is value in her knowing the simple science that goes into growing plants and in experiencing the wonder of a tiny seed turning into a cucumber to munch.

Growing our own food is an inexpensive way to feed ourselves while slowing us down and bonding us as a family. Our kitchen corner is becoming a little hub of discussion about different shaped leaves and speculation on how much lettuce we will have this year. As a family, we are talking about and creating our own food. This has a powerful effect on our relationship to food, to the earth, and to one another.

And who knows, maybe it has also set the stage for the career aspirations of a little botanist. Then again, she wanted to be a bicycle repair girl yesterday…

10 Responses to “Growing with vegetables”

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  4. 4 Sarah March 23, 2010 at 6:04 am

    I think growing your own food is a wonderful way to eat in an inexpensive, organic, healthy and environmentally friendly way. My mom has a garden and I have lots of fond memories from helping her with it when I was growing up.

    Growing produce doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated either. I experimented with growing food in pots on my deck last year and it worked out quite nicely. This year I am planning to do the same thing, but actually start plants from seeds indoors. I’d like to buy heritage seeds to start the plants out, but don’t know where to find them locally (I did find some to order from online from some Canadian site) but if you have any suggestions of places to find heritage seeds locally, let me know.

    • 5 Mama Tortoise March 23, 2010 at 10:29 am

      Thanks for your comments, Sarah.

      I regret that I missed ‘Seed Sunday’ this past Sunday (March 21) at the Alberta Avenue Community League. The Seed Sunday was designed to sell heritage seeds to people in the area.

      Here is the website for the group who organizes Seed Sundays (or Saturdays in Saskatoon or Calgary):

      And, the local Edmonton contact is Pam McKinnon-Coco who can be contacted at

      **All this info was found in the publication ‘Gardener for the Prairies’ – kindly loaned to me by mother to keep me on top of things like this!

  5. 6 roma March 14, 2010 at 12:15 am

    It seems like I want to respond to every piece you post…

    I can’t wait until C is old enough to play in the garden. I’m fast forwarding 4 years and listening to you talk about The Bear and your experience, and picturing us doing the same thing (except maybe for the snow bit!). My husband is a green thumb and we have the dream veggie garden in our little backyard. We LOVE eating our fresh seasonal produce (coming into Autumn now!) and C loves to be out there when I’m picking tomatoes & talking to the grapevines (no I’m not (too) crazy, i just like to tell her about them!), and ok, I may just eat a few grapes as well 😉

    Next step is to get some layer chickens, Mama Tortoise. They are so cute and at least you know they are well treated if they are in your own backyard! 🙂

    If you’re interested, I also have yet another book recommendation – A Slice of Organic Life – edited by Sheherazade Goldsmith. Although my hubby is very experienced in the veggie patch, he even picked up a couple of new ideas! It even provides suggestions on how to maximise space for those who don’t have a garden and live in an inner city environment. Anything is possible!

    Eating fresh veggies from your own garden is definitely worth it as you explain above! Love it!

    • 7 Mama Tortoise March 14, 2010 at 8:39 am

      Oh, how I wish we could have chickens! Edmonton bylaws prevent us from having them. Only just this month, Vancouver approved backyard chickens. And Calgary (our next nearest large centre) is currently undergoing the chicken debate:

      We still have alot to learn about sustainability – change needs to start in small doses like allowing individuals to become self-sustainable. Kudos to growing your own garden and chickens. Funny how such an enjoyable and commonsense thing can be so political.

      Happy harvesting, my Aussie friend, and I’ll look up the book.


  1. 1 Cazare Trackback on September 16, 2016 at 7:44 am
  2. 2 Feeling Time Crunch While Slow Living « Tortoise on the Loose Trackback on June 18, 2010 at 3:42 pm
  3. 3 Fresh Cucumber » Growing with vegetables « Tortoise on the Loose Trackback on March 13, 2010 at 1:41 pm

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