March 17, 2011
I've got two thumbs but trust me, they're not even close to being green. I honestly don't know how this happened. I grew up with a mother who, from as early as I can remember, always had her hands in the dirt and a grandmother who moonlighted as a landscaper. Flowers, gorgeous trees, a perfect lawn, even a homegrown compost pile with the sweetest tomatoes you've ever tasted growing out of it were all the handiwork of my family matriarchs. Somehow in my case, their talents skipped a generation as I have always been much more adept at eating rather than planting.
When my husband and I found our house 4 years ago, one of the major selling points of it for me were the newly planted fruit trees and potted vegetable plants around the house. I was determined to maintain them and fantasized about us growing all of our own produce. Well, two children and a start-up business later, our once flourishing garden has become populated with a mish mosh of plants that I probably over water, may or may not get the sun they need and are overrun by weeds. The only thing that requires no attention throughout the year and grows non-stop in my jungle is shiso leaf and as much as I love shiso, it's not exactly an herb you can use in most recipes.
All this doesn't mean that I haven't tried here and there to keep my garden growing. About twice a year, the kids and I get really excited when we see interesting fruit, vegetable and herb plants at our local farmer's market, we buy a bunch and bring them home to plant. The amount of fun the kids have helping me in the garden is greater than almost any other activity I see them involved in. They love digging in the dirt, looking for worms, breaking up the roots with their little hands, covering the baby plants with soil and of course, watering, watering, watering. We've grown watermelon, corn, sweet peppers, tons of basil, and quarts of cherry tomatoes. We even have a blueberry bush in the summertime that the kids and their friends love to pick clean. As great as all this sounds in theory, I have a bad habit of planting things without really knowing what I'm doing and so plants that require more sun get less and vice versa. The results can be mixed and I tend to lose my gardening mojo as soon as the first "crop" has been harvested and then my garden falls apart completely until I get the urge again.
Enter one of my mommy idols, Lauri Kranz. Lauri is mom to two adorable little boys, Milo and Gus, and she is one of the coolest ladies you'll ever meet. Aside from being a gifted singer and songwriter, Lauri builds and nurtures local school gardens and, with her company, EdibleGardensLA, helps local chefs and other wannabe farmers like myself grow lush gardens full of organic foods.
Over the next few months I'm going to absorb every bit of knowledge I can from Lauri and with her, fill my neglected pots with plants, put in raised planting beds to increase our bounty, start to compost, improve our soil, FINALLY learn how to grow two great big green thumbs and get the whole family out in the garden regularly!
From witnessing my own little ones as well as those of my friends, I've always believed that getting kids in closer contact with where their food comes from is essential to them developing good eating habits. With all the time I spend in the kitchen for weelicious, building my own edible garden just seemed like a logical step. The best part about this new adventure is that I'm going to keep you posted of our progress every step of the way and hopefully inspire you to get out into your own garden, create one if you don’t already have one and show you just how easy gardening can be (Lauri assures me it is!). Every other week here at weelicious we’re going to feature a special section on My Own Edible Garden and offering tips tricks and ideas (and even a few freebies) for how to make yours better. As usual, I welcome any great ideas or suggestions you want to offer!
Here are some "before" pictures, wait until you see what's happening in two weeks!