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Nature Mom: Harvest Time

Worth the Wait
I always said I would never plant vegetables in my front garden. Vegetables didn’t have enough esthetic appeal for my sensibility. That was before we moved into a house with a pint-sized, shady backyard. That was before I had kids. To the front we go!

Although I reserve most of our small front garden for my gardening lab, I left a sunny strip for my kids’ own growing experiments. This past spring they planted six tiny ‘Sweet Million’ cherry tomato plants. As we know, planting edibles is a highly rewarding experience for children on a multitude of levels. Or so I thought.

Hilary - pointing at green tomatoes

Soon after transplanting, the kids’ interest waned. After all, the plants were just plain-Jane green. No flowers, no fruit in sight. Days turned into weeks and eventually they stopped paying attention altogether.

But one day, about two months later, Marley noticed that something magical had happened. One of the plants started to take off, growing taller and taller than the rest. Its stem quickly surpassed Marley’s own height! At the same time, little yellow flowers started appearing, and almost daily, those little yellow flowers were turning into tiny tomato dots.

From that day forward the kids established a daily ritual of checking to see if any of the green ones have turned red (as of mid-September they’re still patiently waiting). Then they look to see if there are any new baby tomatoes. Finally, they play extensive counting games, first counting the flowers, then the tomatoes on each branch, and then adding it all together. All that from one tomato plant. Now let’s hope they actually taste good and that our neighbourhood critters don’t get to them before we do!

Hilary - pointing at tomatoes

Hilary - tying up the big vines

Off To an Actual Edible Garden
I didn’t want my kids to think that one tomato plant constituted a veggie garden. Luckily, I have a great example up the street at our friends, David and Michelle’s. Their entire backyard is lined with an abundance of edibles: eggplant, kale, lettuce, carrots, various heirloom tomatoes and chard, to name a few, all robust and waiting to be harvested right now. Indie was particularly impressed with the delicious raspberries and green tomatoes. She picked some herself (thanks, guys!) and shared it for dinner later that day.

The obvious place to show your kids what a real harvest looks like is at the TBG during its Harvest Day Celebration. On September 28, celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Teaching Garden and help harvest hundreds of pounds of vegetables, which will all be donated to the North York Harvest Food Bank. Throughout the year, school and camp groups use the Teaching Garden to learn where produce comes from. They participate in the incredible reward of picking and eating the food that they grow themselves. It is one of the basic premises of getting kids connected to nature, and it works!

If you want to get your kids involved year-round, check out what TBGKids has to offer, starting at 1-year-old and up!

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