My first blog post welcomes spring (wait, no, that's just wishful thinking; it's still February) and thoughts of gardening. It's important to me that my boys know where food comes from and how it grows, so my mind has been full of thoughts of creating a child-friendly teepee made of pole beans, building rows of garden beds, and watching my boys eat fresh produce right off of the plant! Now, these things may or may not even come to be.. Life is pretty crazy with a 3 year old, 2 year old, and 6 month old (or is he 7 months now?). Most days I consider it a success if the children are clean and without major injury. Minor injuries, apparently, cannot be avoided.
I do want some kind of garden this year, however. Little brains are curious and ready to soak in new information. The past few years, I have grown cherry tomato plants out front of our house. Boy #1 loved to eat them straight off the vines, warm from the sun. Boy #2 loved to yank them off the plant and squish them in his fists, letting the seeds and juice run down his arms onto his clothes. Occasionally, he would pop one in his mouth for a few seconds before spitting it out, which I considered a win. Kids often need to be exposed to a food dozens of times before they will accept it, so the touching and smelling and tasting are important steps.
I hope to plant peas, carrots, lettuce, and tomatoes, at the least, this year. I have been looking around for ideas for garden beds - budget-friendly, easy to build, not permanent. Unlike the farm where I grew up, there are no spare boards just lying around our place! Any suggestions?
There is often an assumption that fresh fruits and vegetables are best. Now, in most cases, you cannot beat the taste and texture of fresh produce, but in terms of nutrition, they can be second rate compared to frozen. Fruits and vegetables destined to hit supermarket shelves in a freezer are picked at the peak of nutritional quality, which is maintained by freezing (often done within hours of harvest). Fresh items, on the other hand, gradually lose nutrients as time goes on if they remain at room or refrigerator temperature. Many varieties may lose as much as 50% of some nutrients within just a few days. Canned fruits and vegetables do lose some nutrients through the heating that is done prior to canning - probably about comparable to fresh ones after a few days.
In our house, we eat fresh fruits and vegetables for the first few days after our grocery shopping trip, and then rely on frozen (and, sometimes, canned) choices for the last few days of the week. It gives us variety - an important part of a healthy diet. And, hopefully, come summer we can eat some fresh straight out of the dirt!