When my kids think of fresh vegetables, they think of the bags of carrots that we buy from the grocery store across the street. We live in NYC and most of our food comes wrapped. Even their cousins in the suburbs are more familiar with the aisle of the supermarket than plants at a farm. In an apartment, we can’t grow much but we have a windowsill.
So, we decided to turn over a new leaf. I headed to the Internet to do a little research on growing veggies in our apartment.
I originally thought I would buy seeds and plant them. I found an excellent 101 on planting on Martha Stewart’s site. But learning about all the steps involved in starting with seeds, I realized it made more sense to start with seedlings for now.
I checked out the Local Harvest site to get some information about the farmers markets in our area. Then I found some great tips on keeping kids engaged with gardening on Kiddie Gardens like decorating clay pots and making garden plant markers.
I also checked out the children’s section of The National Gardening Association where I read an inspirational article about the White House garden and an article about Growing Herbs. Finally I found the sweetest book for my 5 year old “We Grew It Let’s Eat it! about two little girls’ adventures in their community garden.
It was time to head down to the Union Square farmers market where we beelined to a friendly organic farmer from Silver Heights Farm.
My kids checked out the rows of herbs and vegetable plants and each got to choose what they thought would be useful in our new window garden. My sons grabbed some oregano and thyme and my daughter selected cinnamon basil that smelled delicious. I picked up some rosemary and classic sweet basil.
Farmer Trina gave me some good tips about growing the basil. I learned that my new basil plants need a good six hours in the sun every day and that snipping the tips of the basil will help it grow. (She also told me that if I wanted to grow tomatoes, I would need at least a five-gallon container. We are holding off on tomatoes for now.)
We had some more questions, but Mother Nature had other ideas. It started pouring and we had to run to the subway.
At home, we used markers and stickers to decorate the flower pots, then I cut pieces of cardboard to use as plant markers. My kids wrote the names of the herb on one side and their names on the other. Popsicle sticks also work well as markers.
Finally, we stuck the plants in the window and sat back to watch the garden grow. My kids swear that they will take good care of the plants.
I must say I’m pretty proud of the finished product and am already using the oregano and thyme in tomato sauce. The kids love taking turns harvesting the herbs for cooking.
Come back next week for ideas for tips for managing a CSA (community-supported agriculture) subscription.
Francesca Olivieri is co-founder of sage baby, an online eco-friendly baby store offering everything from organic clothes and skin care to furniture. She also runs a green consulting business; blogs for The Family Groove and Scenic Hudson; and contributes to Daily Candy Kids, YogaCity, Citiscoop, and NRDC’s Simple Steps. Please visit her website at FrancescaOlivieri.com.