Vegetable Gardening Attempt #4

The Bear helping me start seeds.

The Bear helping me start seeds.

Well, I missed the boat on posting a Slow Saturday challenge for this week. I’m going to consider this spring break and take a week off!

Instead, I’ve been thinking about gardening. The Bear and I planted our first seeds this week. And, oh joy, they have already started to sprout. Then, this past Saturday, my mother and I attended a seminar on growing tomatoes. We learned lots of new tricks and ideas (did you know that mixing cinnamon into the soil where you start your seeds will prevent damp off?) I now have six different tomato varieties sitting in warm earth on the windowsill.

But this post isn’t about the merits of gardening. I’m going to avoid a Birkenstock-inspired rant about why children should learn to grow veggies. (But if you are interested, check out this WSJ article on why 2011 should be the year of the vegetable). Nope, I’m wondering about us – the parents. How many of your/my generation learned to grow food as children?

When MJ and I moved into our house, I was intent on having a yard with easy maintenance. Gardening was what you did when you were retired. Me? I was too busy to maintain a garden. But then, to our surprise, old raspberry canes impressively took over a corner of our backyard. With absolutely zero effort, we had been given an amazing gift. These berries tasted nothing like those from the supermarket and there were LOTS of them. We couldn’t possibly eat all the raspberries and I couldn’t bear the thought of wasting them. How could I preserve them for later?

So began my learning curve with growing and preserving food. With a few more experiments, I discovered the joy in going into my backyard and eating what was growing there. But I had never been taught a thing about growing vegetables or fruit. This was never something that was part of my childhood. In the eyes of most Westerners, growing a vegetable garden isn’t a necessity; it’s merely an interesting hobby. In just a couple of generations, we’ve moved from having intimate knowledge about growing our own food and persevering it to little or no knowledge at all. It’s fine to proselytize to families about the advantages of growing food, but one needs to acknowledge that many people today don’t have a clue where to start.

Slow parenting is about slow food, and therefore growing vegetables is a reasonable fit. But then what? Consider this a call to learn a little this season. The benefits for the kids will come later. For right now, it’s about the parents gleaning some basic gardening knowledge.

In an effort, not to inspire you, but to humbly expose my learning curve, here are my personal top five ‘learning-to-garden’ disasters:

1. Starting tomato seeds at the end of January. But June, they were four feet tall. Even though they were intended as outside plants, they spent most of their life in our home awkwardly blocking our back door.
2. Growing veggies in the shade. I know, ridiculous, right? But I had never been told that they need full sun.
3. Not watering. Huh? Veggies need water? I only left them for a week, but that was enough to kill them.
4. Being excited about how well my lettuce was doing when it was three feet tall. I hadn’t yet learned the term bolting.
5. Overdoing the veggies and ignoring the role of flowers. Until I had a sudden memory of grade five science – plants need to be pollinated, so that means bees and butterflies, oh, that’s why people plant flowers with their veggies!

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7 Responses to “Vegetable Gardening Attempt #4”


  1. 1 เครื่องปั่นจักรยานออกกําลังกาย June 13, 2014 at 1:12 pm

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  2. 2 Jenna March 31, 2011 at 2:08 am

    Like you, we’ve been learning from the yard that came with our house. We have apples and raspberries and space for a big garden. Tomorrow we’ll be planting our seeds inside. My 4 year old has been excited all week at the prospect of planting seeds. He’s also excited about being part of a CSA farm again this summer. He loved helping last summer. Thanks for the cinnamon tip we’ll definitely try it.

    • 3 Mama Tortoise April 1, 2011 at 4:23 pm

      Hi Jenna!

      Great to hear that you’re planting seeds with your four-year-old. Hope the cinnamon tip helps – my tomato seeds are all up with no mould, so for now I’m attributing it to the cinnamon. I’ve always wanted to try the CSA farm thing but never have. You’ve inspired me to check out what’s available in our area!

      -Laura

  3. 4 Mama Tortoise March 19, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    I totally agree, Roma. Growing veggies it the best. Just lots to learn. You’re lucky to have a husband with insider information!

  4. 5 roma March 15, 2011 at 11:52 am

    I’ll just send Charlotte over next time you have an abundance of raspberries. We were getting at least a kilo a day last season and she did a good job of polishing off almost the whole lot – and i am not exaggerating on either point. Although we did manage to freeze some for winter as well and make three delicious jars of raspberry jam! Yum!

    I am with you on not growing up with a veggie garden (my parents tried but they, in the nicest possible way, had no idea so there was not much success!). However, my husband was brought up in an environment where growing your own veggies, fruit and herbs was an essential part of living so i am very blessed when it come to our garden – and the knowledge he has…have learnt a heck of a lot over the last few years but as he says, you can never stop learning. There is new knowlege to gain – so enjoy the experience!

    I think the best part of growing your own fruit and veggies is the taste. Completely different to what you can get from a supermarket or even a fruit and veggie market! Don’t know why but there is nothing like the taste of food from your own garden!

    • 6 roma March 15, 2011 at 11:58 am

      and i really should proof read my comments before submitting them. Sorry about all the typos, but I need to rush so I can get out to the garden 😉


  1. 1 Slow Saturdays (or Sunday!) – Time to Grow a Veggie « Tortoise on the Loose Trackback on March 20, 2011 at 4:28 pm

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