As the old saying goes, “families that play together stay together”. In our experiences, edible gardening has been more play than work. You just have to be sure to relax, not expect too much, and keep gardening simple enough for the entire family to enjoy it. The edible garden can quickly become the other “heart” of the home, right after the kitchen. Actually, the two places compliment each other quite well!
Having a garden plan helps not only with plant selection, crop rotation, etc. It also helps gardeners to best understand the various responsibilities that will need to be covered throughout the gardening season. Everyone loves to pick and taste the bountiful harvest of the garden. However, some of the other “jobs” are not always greeted with such enthusiasm.
For example, weeding and watering can start to get old after a few weeks. Everyone in our family weeds and waters, but often our kids find themselves assigned to these tasks. Our young children do a great job weeding when some extra allowance, the chance to pick a garden fresh tomato/watermelon/strawberry or some other treat is offered as a reward. Plus, weeding is an easy enough job that does not require constant reminders or lessons. We just give the kids a small bucket each and challenge them to fill it up so they get their reward.
The above may sound intuitive, but this next part came with experience. In fact, it took us a full growing season to figure out that everyone in the family needed to be part of the edible garden planning process. Why should one person have all the fun deciding what to grow and where to grow it? What if that person has different tastes from the rest of the family?
This was precisely the case with our edible garden. One person created the plan and then the rest were expected to embrace it and the produce that garden plan would provide. The result was sporadic engagement from the other family members. Some day the wife and kids would be in the garden harvesting, bug hunting, or watering. Other days they were nowhere to be seen. They did not feel like owners!
For growing season #2 we took a holistic approach. Everyone had a say and nothing was off-limits. If our son wanted to grow just tomatoes in his raised bed so be it. We just made sure we also detailed the garden jobs each person had to incorporate into their plan. No surprises and everyone felt like they helped create the plan. Planning even became fun as seen in the photo above. Plus, it gives folks something to do in the bleak Winter months!
Making your edible garden a family affair will not always result in a better harvest, but it will make for a better garden. Not all the gifts of the garden can be picked and eaten. Some of the gifts run much deeper than that.