Thursday, June 3, 2010

The First FoodieMommy Garden and Why We Love Russell's Garden Center

My parents taught me many critical things about life: how to stay organized, the significance of good coffee, to be nice to people, that Cape Cod is beautiful, etc. But gardening wasn't one of the key lessons of my childhood. And, by my 20s, I had actually killed a cactus. For the last 7 years I lived in a house that had a large plot of land, but I was suspicious of the soil and too lazy to get it tested.

But last year, my 3 year old and I decided it was time to try. We head to Russell's Garden Center in Wayland (Thanks to Dadventures suggestion!) and bought our share of beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, and edamame. And, by the summer's end, the boys and I were able to eat... about 10 beans, total! But each bean made my boys grin ear to ear as they picked and ate them from the vine.

I moved 3 weeks ago, though. And, in this new apartment, my landlord was kind enough to till a huge plot for me. He is also a gardener himself, and he shared that the soil was wonderful for growing, and a few tips for getting started. But Dadventures (and his lovely sons) are our real tutors for the summer.

Last year I learned that it is very hard for an inexperienced gardener to navigate Russell's with a toddler by one's side! So this year I headed out myself. It was a joy to meander among the multiple types of basil, tomatoes, unusual greens such as purslane, the range of herbs and other vegetables. And best of all, I was actually able to listen and take notes as the staff gave me some tips.

Back in the garden, I tossed out the extra rocks, added more soil and manure and set up our nets. The next day, the boys and I planted: radishes, beets, tomatoes, cucumbers, cranberry beans, green beans, Brussel sprouts, broccoli, eggplant, mesclun mix, Rainbow chard, Lacinto Kale, strawberries, cilantro, basil, pineapple mint, red and jalapeno peppers, and carrots. Per last year, the boys adored getting dirty, trying to plant the tiniest of seeds, digging holes and watering our new garden.

My favorite moment, though, was when they reached over to the herbs. Last year as part of Aura's Family Friendly Nights/Events, Chef Rachel Klein pointed out that one of the best ways to get your children interested in herbs, was to let them taste them. And though my older son is finicky enough that I can't ever mix herbs into anything, he is happy to try mint, sage and basil. And my younger child eats them like lettuce!

My goal is still to have this be pretty low maintenance. I am hoping that nature will help with sun and rain and that the kids will assist with weed pulling and harvesting. I am already optimistic, though, that I will understand how gardening can be incredibly relaxing and therapeutic after a long day. Or two. And best of all, we will have some glorious new herbs and festivals for our summer picnics and meals.

Two last thoughts. If you are out at Russell's on a Saturday, head just a bit further West on Route 30 to enjoy the perfect cappuccinos at Karma Coffee. (As I remembered too late, they are closed on Sundays.) Or, anytime after June 23, head to Russell's on Wednesdays from 12 to 4 to enjoy the Wayland Farmer's Market.

Russell's Garden Center, 397 Boston Post Road (Route 30), Wayland, 508-358-2283

1 comment:

  1. Oh, gardening! It is my new love. I could never understand why my late grandma used to love weeding, and now I totally get it! As a third grade teacher, I'm often exhausted at the end of the day, but a quick jaunt in the garden with my kitty, and all the stress melts away as I do my rhythmic weeding and watch the steady progress of my veggies! And Russells? Like gardening porn. I can get lost there for hours looking at everything!

    I just love reading your site and the lovely spin you have on simple everyday pleasures!