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Welcome to Dupage Mamas! This blog is a place for Mamas to connect, share their experiences, and recommend great finds and ideas (or let us learn from your mistakes!) If you are raising kids in Dupage County, then we'd love to have you along for the adventure!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Mud and Munchies

Today's guest blogger is Heather, from Wheaton.

Backyard Veggie Gardening for Us All, Part 1

Not having a naturally green thumb I’ve always been intimidated by growing vegetables. However, being a fan of locally grown food I finally decided to grow a few and see how it went. I planted beans, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers and a few herbs. My daughters, then 1 and 3 years old loved to "help" in the garden. At first for them "helping" meant running over to the garden, plunking down in the mud, picking up tools and plunging them into blossoming flowers. However, even at age 1 and 3 they learned to weed, water and how to gently pick the vegetables. Many of my friends told me growing your own vegetables was a great way to get toddlers to eat them. Well, no such luck there for me! However, they are now pretty good friends with vegetables and enjoy eating herbs. Also they are learning where their food comes from and are getting comfortable playing with earthworms and bugs.

Want to know how I got started? I raked and weeded an empty area that got about 6-8 hours a day of sunlight. I turned the soil (loosened it up). Then I planted seeds and seedlings (purchased at Home Depot) according to the package directions. I basically decided to not worry too much making it perfect. This was a fun experiment. I watered regularly. I did not use pesticides. I weeded when I could, but didn't get too particular... I just made sure the veggies all had some breathing room. It wasn’t the prettiest garden, but it was productive. We harvested lettuce all summer, tons of tomatoes and beans and herbs. We only got one or two peppers. It was very exciting to be making salad from lettuce that grew in my own yard! How satisfying! Now I am hooked. I've spent all fall and winter reading and researching gardening tips and techniques.

This season I'm starting a little garden co-op with some friends. They will help me garden so we can grow more food and in exchange they get to take some of the food home. Our children will have entertainment with friends and added also supervision if necessary. We adults will benefit from the food, the company and letting the kids run around outside.

This year I am excited to try Square Foot Gardening. Square Foot Gardening saves space, resources and time so check it out! I will keep you updated on how my journey into co-operative Square Foot Gardening goes this growing season so check back for more garden tips and updates!

If you've never grown vegetables before take my challenge: pick one vegetable to grow this summer and let DuPage Mamas know how it goes! If you don’t have great growing soil buy some compost from a local garden center---it will make a big difference.

Also, to all you expert gardeners of DuPage County. Do you have a garden center or nursery that you recommend? I've heard there's one in Addison, called Schwarz Nursery. Has anyone ever been?

Heather Maynard, LMT, also blogs at In Te Domine. Need a massage? Check out her business site: Massage Therapy for Women.

We're always looking for guest bloggers! If you'd like to share something with the Dupage Mamas community, send us your completed post or half-baked ideas.


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