Another long summer has arrived and I am once again challenged with how to motivate my boys to lift their heads above their screens and venture outside. Now 11 and 14, the boys often choose to stay at home rather than accompany me to the community and donation gardens I manage. In the past, they had to come because they were too young to stay home alone but now that they don’t have to go, they usually don’t. The good news is that they know how to garden and have learned to appreciate the taste of good home grown organic produce.
So putting all these elements together, I came up with an inspiration. Why not challenge them each to plant a small 4 x 4 garden at home? And reward them with prizes for competing in several categories? Over the course of several weeks, I introduced the idea while building two awesome raised beds, filling them with fresh garden mix and tempting the boys with the thought of selecting the hottest peppers we could find and the possibility of beating each other on several fronts -number of varieties, number of pounds, largest tomato/zucchini, most delicious dish, best looking garden, etc. With relatively minimal effort, the boys succumbed to my suggestion and now, a full fledged garden competition is underway.
When the conversation started, Dylan who had maintained his own little plot in my community garden between the ages of 5 and 12, was adamant that his younger brother would fail. Not one to back down on a challenge, his younger brother took the bait and started to plan his little garden first. Several weeks before, Tristan had elected some free peppers at an event we attended at the Denver Botanic Gardens. And, eagerly flipped through a pile of seed packets I’d arranged on the kitchen table. He considered the irrigation options — a soaker hose, olla’s (clay pot irrigation) or hand watering. And worked on mapping out his plan. So when I finally said, “Let’s plant your garden,” late on Memorial Day, he had thought through all the options and was ready. He picked out several plants, 10 packets of seeds and flowers and after laying out the soaker hose and placing the trellises, had everything planted in 30 minutes.
At this writing, my experienced 14 year has laid out his soaker hose and selected his main plants but has yet to break ground. I am hoping he’ll pull the trigger tomorrow — June 2. With a little nudging, its happening and I can’t wait to see what else grows around here this summer!
Tristan’s Garden List
Pole beans, carrots, onions, radishes, lettuce, cucumber, broccoli, nasturtiums, pumpkin, three hot peppers.
Dylan’s Garden List
Carrots, onions, lettuce, and peppers.