Summer days always seem to go by so quickly. The anticipation of school letting out is soon followed by wondering what the new school year will bring. Lea Ciceraro, of Love Me Simply Photography, spent her summer days in the family garden. Slowing down time and enjoying simple pleasures right from her backyard.
“A laid back summer enjoying the awesome things that are right within our reach has made for a beautiful and relaxing season. We didn’t make any big travel plans, and we didn’t even make a ‘summer bucketlist.’ We stayed off Pinterest and just let our imaginations and interests guide us every day!
Early summer consisted of planting tomato seedlings and cucumber seeds and watching them grow a little more each day! Watching a child’s eyes light up as they learn about how to grow food is priceless. I am almost as novice as it gets when it comes to gardening, but that certainly didn’t stop me from trying it out and learning right alongside my kids. Let yourself have the same curiosity as they do, and you will be amazed at what the new things you will try (and may even have a knack for!). We also planted rosemary and lavender, as they are a bit easier to grow than produce (and they smell so yummy, too!). Planting things like lavender is also a fantastic opportunity to teach your kids about the importance of our pollinators, especially the role they play in our garden!
I have learned that tomatoes are pretty easy to grow, and cherry tomatoes are particularly fun for the kiddos to watch ripen quickly. Their excitement to go pick and eat them straight off the vine is magical when they know they’re just the right shade of red. We had to have more patience for the cucumbers since we started with tiny seeds, but they were also easy and fun to grow! I like to start small with gardening. Baby steps. Last year I planted only tomatoes. This year tomatoes and cucumbers. Next year we will pick a third plant to add to the mix! It is way easier to learn that way if you are brand new to it. Also, starting from seeds is much cheaper than using bigger plants from the get-go, and if you frequently visit your local gardening store you can likely snag some seedling plants the moment they are on sale or clearance!
My wonderful hubby made our garden beds from old, free pallets in one afternoon. Another helpful tip is to plant seeds with an open mind and expect that the kids will pick things before they’re ripe, or dig up a root system or two. It happens. They’re curious. To help with that, create a second smaller gardening bed next to the one with the plants, fill it with soil, get some kid-sized rakes and shovels, and let them have at it! Then they can work right alongside of you without harming the plants you’re trying so very hard to help survive their curious little hands.
If gardening is not your forte or you are starting small like us, local farmers’ markets are the next best way to learn about growing food, while meeting and supporting wonderful farmers, and enjoying their hard work! If you keep an eye on the schedule for your favorite market, there also tends to be lots of family-friendly and kid-centered activities to participate in!
Aside from our favorite, fresh produce all season long, we have also just enjoyed some of the basics of a fun childhood: running through sprinklers, befriending baby turtles, visiting the Museum of Life and Science, finding bird nests, and eating popsicles.
Cheers to curious minds and enjoying the final days of summer (and looking forward to my favorite season: Fall!).