Tag Archives: Gardening

Does Gardening Encourage Kids to Eat Their Vegetables?

I’ve always been one of the lucky parents. My two oldest love their vegetables for the most part. I assume the baby will once she’s big enough.

I can’t really say that there’s a secret, as I’m sure that what we’ve done won’t work for every family. But it sure works for us.

I’ve often wondered if a part of it is that we introduced vegetables so very early. There’s some debate as to whether or not introducing veggies before fruits to a baby has any impact, but that’s what we did. We started our two oldest on green beans.

And when they got older, they loved green beans so much that they literally ate them like candy when we grew them in the garden for the first time. “Please, Mommy, can we have more green beans? Pleeease?”

It was cute. And how could I possibly say no?

The garden I think of as the other part of our secret. My kids love it. They love snacking from it. They love finding fresh food in it. They even had fun helping us plan it.

This year’s garden, unfortunately, is going to be inherited by whoever rents this place after we move out. I hope it happens soon enough that the garden survives. We’ve gotten some produce from it, and the kids have certainly been enjoying it all.

I won’t say my kids eat all the vegetables we’ve grown. But they’ve enjoyed most of it.

Mere exposure to a garden certainly isn’t enough. It took me a couple of days to get across to the neighbor’s kids that the front yard cherry tomato plant was not to supply them with ammunition for tomato fights. Grrrr!

I wouldn’t care if the neighbor kids wanted to snack on them the way my kids do, but I’m not going to encourage food fights! Such a waste. But they don’t like tomatoes, so they just saw them as ammo.

A big thing to remember is that even if the garden doesn’t encourage your kids to eat their vegetables, it can’t hurt to try. You’re increasing their exposure to fresh food, probably eating a bit better yourself if you’re the only one eating the produce, and so demonstrating better eating habits. It may pay off over a longer term.

Organic Foods on the Cheap – Money Saving Mondays

The problem many people have with buying organic food is the cost. It’s often significantly more expensive than conventionally grown produce. That’s rough when you’re on a tight budget.

But there are several ways to get organic food for less.

My own favorite way is to grow a garden. There’s some initial investment and a lot of time spent, but you will generally get back more than you put in. It’s likely to cost you less than what the conventionally grown produce would have cost you at the grocery store.

Although you do run the risk of failure if it’s just a bad year.

There are other ways to get organic food for less. These are a few.

1. Check the farmer’s market.

Some farmer’s markets have better prices than others, but you will probably find a good selection of organic produce there. If not organic, it’s probably locally grown, and that’s not a bad choice either.

Don’t be afraid to ask for a discount if you’re buying slightly damaged produce, and check out some of the less familiar foods. You can find some really interesting foods at farmer’s markets.

You’ll need to know what the prices are at your stores for organic produce to know what you’re saving at a farmer’s market.

2. Join a CSA

This one’s kind of tough, as the investment is upfront. However, if you check out this study done at the University of Massachusetts, you can see that you may be getting significantly more for your money with a CSA. No guarantees, of course, as anyone can have a bad year, but I wouldn’t expect that to be a regular problem.

If you have trouble with the cost or quantity of food, try splitting a share with a friend.

3. Buy in season.

Produce always costs less when it’s in season. If you have the space, the time and the inclination, you can freeze or can any excess you buy for later use.

Our Broccoli Has Bolted – Mmmm, Flowers!

I knew buying broccoli for a spring planting was risky. Even told my husband we should wait for fall, but he wanted to plant it anyhow.

boltedbroccoliSo it’s no surprise that it has bolted already.

One important thing to remember about bolted broccoli – it still tastes good. My kids are utterly delighted with the taste of the flowers.

We’ve trimmed some for dinner. It has a really nice, kind of sweet taste. I almost don’t dare steam or otherwise cook it for fear of ruining the flavor.

I’m also eager for the next heads to appear around where we trimmed it. My mother was telling us about how she grew broccoli when we were kids. The heads get sweeter with each trim, she says, as well as smaller. She said we would go out and just snack on them.

Sounds good to me. Now I’m just hoping we get enough enjoyment from the lettuce we planted. I managed to keep my husband from planting the spinach until fall, but he couldn’t resist some random varieties that were already started at the garden center.

My Ugly Water-Saving Garden Solution


We’ve been saving the gallon jugs from the apple juice we buy for about a year now. These containers are now being used to water our garden.

No, they aren’t pretty. But it’s the same principle as the Aqua Globes you can buy.

They’re working pretty well, although we don’t have quite enough bottles saved up for the whole garden yet. As you can see in the picture, they’re not that far apart, maybe a foot, foot and a half at most.

The nice thing is that the water is going right into the soil. No water sprayed into the air. Since we’re looking at a Stage 2 drought and mandatory water conservation coming up at the start of June, we’re trying to figure out how best to keep our garden alive with a minimum of water. Oh, and a minimum of budget. We don’t really have the finances for installing drip irrigation right now.

I have given some thought to the BPA in plastic issue with this, but I suspect it’s not that different from the yard’s sprinkler system, which I believe is installed using PVC plastic anyhow. The bottles are a #5 plastic. They’re not supposed to leech anything harmful… then again they are in the heat of the sun every day so who knows. Not exactly how they were meant to be used.

On the other hand, a lot of recyclers don’t take anything other than #1 or 2 plastics, which I think is true in my area. That means we’re keeping these out of the landfill for a while. I’m not too happy as a rule about buying things in plastic, but it’s hard to entirely avoid. Finding a new use for the plastic is the next best thing.

Where to Find Local Food Resources

I’ve talked a bit lately about my garden. I love being able to grow my own food. In fact, my husband came home the other day with an early Mother’s Day gift for me – more plants for the garden. I liked it.

I know, of course, that gardening isn’t for everyone. So today I wanted to get into local food sources. If you can’t garden, if you don’t want to, if your garden fails, whatever the reason, buying local is a great option.

Farmer’s markets are often an easy choice. There may be several in your area. The USDA has a page all about farmer’s markets, and it may be a place for you to start searching if you haven’t spotted them already on your own. But it definitely doesn’t have all of them listed. I searched for a farmer’s market I know of in my area, one that has been going on for years, and it wasn’t listed.

Local Harvest is another great resource. Once again, they didn’t have my local farmer’s market listed, but it did show another that I know of nearby.

Local Harvest can also help you to find a CSA to join in your area. Community Supported Agriculture groups are a great option if you don’t mind prepaying and not knowing what exactly you’re going to get. I haven’t tried one yet myself, but every time I read about someone who has, the selection impresses me.

The Eat Well Guide offers similar resources.

If you want to learn more about sustainable eating, I suggest checking out the Sustainable Table website. It has some great tips that will help you understand why you want to avoid conventionally farmed foods when you can.