Raising a tiny gardener
Although the summer of 2017 was a tough climate for growing, I was pretty impressed with the assortment of vegetables that arrived. Thank goodness I have a tiny gardener who loves to dig in the dirt!
Preston always seemed interested in being outdoors, but finding the Kids Carhartts made backyard time so much more fun. Find out where you can pick up your own pair of Kids Carharrts HERE!
Preston turned 2 this summer, which was perfect timing because she was in full 'explore on her own' mode. Giving her a special spot to dig in the garden and her own set of tools was key in allowing Chris and I to accomplish anything in the backyard. Not only did it give her the confidence to "garden" on her own, but it was a great way for her to practice her hand-eye coordination.
Getting your little ones involved
You can find kids gardening sets just about anywhere and through Amazon they are super inexpensive. We bought a plastic basket from our local Dollar Store for her to keep all of her outdoor tools and toys in. This not only saved out backyard from looking like a daycare, but motivated her to clean up after herself. (Much thanks to our awesome neighbors for this tip!)
Providing time for your little ones to freely play and entertain self isn't just to give parents a break, it's imperative for allowing your kids to practice their creativity and critical-thinking skills. Double that with the natural mental health benefits of digging in the dirt and it's a win-win for parents!
More benefits of digging in the dirt
According to an article published in Neuroscience, spending time outdoors doesn't just provide the mind with an escape from reality. Scientists found a link in soil exposure and increased happiness levels. Apparently, the production of serotonin (your happy chemical naturally produced in the body) when exposed to a specific soil-based bacteria has been shown to increase. Even more fascinating, getting your hands dirty not only lifts your mood similarly to over-the-counter pharmaceuticals, but it does so without the nasty side effects! Wowza! No wonder I always feel so uplifted after gardening.
Further research also indicates that just residing near a greenspace can help women live longer, lowering their overall risk for factors for major chronic diseases like kidney, respiratory and even cancer. These studies only further my interests in getting my children involved in the outdoor scene. Mainly, it just feels dang good to be out in the fresh air!
Check out some of the amazing vegetables our garden produced this year!
A few tips on growing your own crops!
Cherry Tomatoes and Sunburst Tomatoes are a must in my garden every year. They're great for snacking right off the vine, add color and flavor to many of my summertime dishes and produce all season long. Often times I have so many that I'm giving them away to neighbors and friends whenever I have the chance. We plant ours tomato crops in elevated planter boxes (1' x 2.5' x 1'). The first year in our home I had them planted in my regular garden beds and they took over, so to prevent them from corrupting my other crops we put them in movable planters made out of pressure treated wood. This has been so great because it allows me to move them all over my yard for ideal sun exposure!
Mexican Sour Gherkin, also known as Cucamelons were a new addition to our garden this year. After seeing an advertisement for them on Facebook I decided to give them a shot and to my surprise, they were AMAZING!! They are no bigger than the size of a grape and look like little mini watermelons. They taste and texture is like a cucumber, but with a hint of lemon! I planted them in a medium-sized terracotta pot on my deck and purchased small a iron trellis through Amazon. The only problem with having this on my deck was that it was easy access for little hands. But who would complain about their kid eating too many vegetables?
Along with tomatoes and cucumbers, we also planted sugar snap peas, patio snackers (which are another version of cucumbers), jalapeños, cauliflower, zucchini, butternut squash and pumpkins. Because we had such a long, hot and dry summer, our squash never made an appearance and we ended up with only 4 zucchini. And although this was a huge bummer because we are squash lovers in the Huth household, we had plenty of other produce to tie us over this summer.
Check out one of our favorite summertime recipes HERE!