After our very extended hiatus on HSWT, we are now strolling back into autumn, picking our final cherry tomatoes, and drying out every fresh herb we can get our hands on.
As a little update on Alexander’s first garden experiment, I can happily report that it has been a smashing success. Though his idea of watering was a few tiny buckets of water and weeding was mostly random fistfuls of plants, Alexander loved being able to romp through the open beds. He’d usually look around the beds, grab a leaf, look at me for approval, then pop it in his mouth. (Of course, immediately following, he’d chew a few times, then make a face and attempt to remove it). He was much more receptive to our cherry and grape tomatoes– though his t-shirts suffered quite a bit from tomato stains from his occasional binges.
The biggest success by far was his “hanging” strawberry gardens using a few shepherd hooks and hanging baskets. Earlier this summer when he was still using mostly signing for food words, he excitedly told me “Mama, strawberries!!” and dragged me over to show me that there were honest-to-goodness strawberries just waiting to be picked (and eaten, of course!) The punchline, of course to this story is that he had strawberries smeared all over his mouth when he told me. Watching him discover planting after planting was so much fun– from his wide eyes at the cucumbers on a trellis to his little “whoa!” when I pulled our first beet, it’s been well worth the effort. Though he’s been less than thrilled with his random samplings of his swiss chard, I’ve been sneaking snips of it into almost all of our pasta dishes. He has looked at me with his little furrowed brow when I come in from the garden with a handful of chard as if to say “What are you doing with that, mama?”
We unfortunately got caught in a recent airport snafu last weekend, which grounded our big fall travel plans. Rather than mope for the entire planless weekend, we took advantage of our free time and beautiful weather to do a few major harvests of our biggest crops. Alexander “helped” me harvest all of our candy cane beets, which we roasted and all have been enjoying this week. Given his penchant for wanting to help me do everything mixed with an intense desire to touch EVERYTHING in sight, he was the prime candidate for Apprentice Herb Dryer.
Why didn’t I think of this earlier? After several rounds of “Mama, help! Help!”, I appointed my new apprentice, handed him a brown paper bag, and demonstrated how to pick herbs. At first, he was a little selective about which leaves, but then he hit our sage bushes like there was no tomorrow. I checked his handiwork, and he graduated to Italian parsley and eventually genovese basil. Every day now, we take turns shaking the aerated bags and giving them a little sniff test. Alexander even dutifully smashed our first round of fully-dried leaves. (He is now my official ziplock crushing concierge– tortilla chips, cookies, herbs, you name it!)
We’re also beginning to collect seeds for next year’s planting– mostly cosmos and nasturtium. For anyone with young gardeners, nasturtium is a super easy flower to grow (and really, really hard to kill), not to mention that their seeds are HUGE, so if you want to collect and dry them for future years, it’s pretty straight-forward. We’re also starting to pull bachelor button seeds as well.
In summation, Alexander’s first garden was a smashing success. I look forward to watching next year’s crop of asparagus come up, our little guy helping out even more, and enjoying our dried herbs all winter long. While our weekend ended up being a total washout for travel, it resulted in our family realizing what a cornucopia our gardens have been to our little guy this year.
Thank you for sharing your adventures! I love the pictures.
What a great experience for little Alexander. As you bring out those dried herbs through the winter, the memories he has will continue to be reinforced. He’ll probably be pulling you out the door in February to get the garden going. “Let’s just clear this snow and get to work!”
A wonderful mom-son experience. A thought: Could this be the way to teach a child patience?