The Rewards of a Family Garden
As a North Dakota farm kid, I was lucky enough to grow up with a large family garden. As an 11-year-old, weeding and watering was not very attractive, but I did it, and the food we harvested was fresh and delicious. During winter, our canned veggies, fruits and jellies, spruced up cold meals.
Today, my husband and I continue to garden. And much like myself, our children didn’t like the idea of having to help in the garden when they were younger. But because they liked what came out of it, they learned to help. They watered, pulled weeds, picked strawberries or grapes, and husked sweet corn. They especially liked eating sweet peas fresh off the vine! I’ve rarely had our sweet peas actually make it to the house.
Friends and neighbors are often amazed at the size of our garden (roughly 100’x50’) and how we find time to manage such a large project. The secret is easy — we enjoy it! Gardening is a way to teach your family reliability, and you’ll also walk away with a tremendous sense of pride in raising your own food.
How can you start an at-home garden, too?
- Make a plan. Starting in January, we literally draw out a map on paper and imagine what to plant as we pour over garden catalogs.
- Pick your seed. We order the seed or buy it at our local hardware store. We plant vegetables we like, such as tomatoes, carrots, broccoli and peas.
- Find your gardening zone from your local university extension service or local gardening center. Your gardening zone will help you understand when the optimal planting times are and what plants can survive a late frost.
- Stagger your plantings. Over time, we’ve learned not to plant all the radishes at once or else they’re ready to eat at the same time, and we can’t eat them that fast! So, we plant about 1/3 of our radish seeds, wait 10 days, then plant the next 1/3 and so on. This allows us to have some to eat while the next batch is growing.
- Water as needed, weed as needed, and harvest when the veggies are ready!
We only take about 30 minutes a day to tend to our garden and reap the benefits all year long. Imagine replacing 30 minutes of watching TV each day with 30 minutes of gardening. You will find yourself with fresh veggies for supper and more time with the entire family!
Bridgette Readel was born and raised in Wishek, North Dakota. She has an extension degree from North Dakota State University and is married with two adult children. Bridgette has been a sales representative with Dow AgroSciences in North Dakota since 1997. She became a Market Development Specialist in 2013.