We live in an outer borough of New York, so our backyard is small. So, in the small section of our yard, we took it upon ourselves to create a small vegetable garden back on Mother’s Day Weekend. We’ve tried to do this before, but the throw seeds in dirt and hope for the best approach didn’t work, so we actually looked into what to do this time.
Over the next several months, we tended to the garden, by weeding, watering and tying up plants to the support poles or cages. My daughter was very helpful, finding it incredibly fun to weed and water. It created a great sense of pride in being a part of growing the vegetables. Plus it was a great introduction to the life cycle of plants from seed, to plant, to fruit, to seed again.
We purchased small seedling plants from Home Depot during their Spring garden sale. The plants chosen were: 2 cherry tomatoes, 3 roma tomatoes, 2 green beans, 1 eggplant, and 1 Cajun Belle (which is a spicy bell pepper variety). We also purchased several bags of gardening soil. Maybe next year, I’ll buy seeds and start growing seedlings at home in January, plus feed the plants with natural fertilizer (see: Biff Tannen), to make a true home growing experience.
So this endevour took months, and I couldn’t have done it without the help of my four year old daughter. She was the best gardening helper, helping me water every day that it did not rain, patiently waiting for the plants to grow.
We were very happy with the result, mostly with the tomatoes. With some tweaking and expanding, we expect a lot of fresh home grown fruit and veggies next year.
So here’s a quick recap of each plant:
The tomato plants were very productive – one of them turned into such a behemoth that it broke the bamboo supports in half, and I needed to buy tomato cages. By the end of the season, the plant knocked that over too. I would start out with a tomato cage and forgo the poles altogether.
These were very easy to maintain. It took a lot of watering at the start of growth, but by summer there was enough rain to let them go on their own. Tying about once every week or twice kept the fruits high above the ground. Although we had a lot stolen by a squirrel.
We had a plethora of raw tomatoes to eat, plus I used them in cooking often. At the end of the season, there were tons of green tomatoes that weren’t going to turn, so we fried them, added them in dishes, and made salsa.
These grew ridiculously huge. The singular plant we had grew about 6 large eggplant, good for a few meals. Next year, I’m going to plant a lot more. These were also very easy to maintain. I tied the plant to a bamboo support, and that’s all that was needed.
CAJUN BELLE PEPPERS
Our big bust was the two green bean plants. The first plant died within days of planting. The other produced about 11 green beans total. So, my daughter got to eat some crunchy raw green beans as a snack…and that’s it. I will not be planting these next year.
I didn’t even take a picture….
Even with a small yard, there was a lot of benefits with making a small garden that my daughter could participate in helping grow. She also got to learn the life cycle of plants hands on. And of course, a lot of delicious home grown vegetables were available to eat.