With Miracle-Gro, Joanna Schroeder's family works together on their garden to grow something even greater: a strong family.
When my husband Ivan and I left the city of Los Angeles and headed out into the suburbs of LA county, one thing we both wanted was a little space. I wanted a yard, some trees to shade our home, and a patch to grow stuff.
It started with cacti in little pots (it is the desert after all!) and some light landscaping. When our kids were born, our focus went to growing our family and creating a safe and inviting place for them to run and play. When our oldest turned three, my husband built him a sandbox where our boys played for years, pushing dump trucks and diggers through the sand.
A few years ago they outgrew this phase of their lives and the sandbox became an eyesore, full of weeds and fallen leaves. That's when we had a stroke of genius: We'd take out all the sand and turn the sandbox into a raised garden planter for growing the fresh veggies our family loves.
Building our vegetable garden became one of the most fun events our family has enjoyed in our yard. I got to use a demolition jackhammer to remove some of our rocky soil, which was just plain awesome. The kids loved shoveling sand into their little wheelbarrow and carrying it away (yes, a lot spilled out!), and dumping in fresh loads of nutrient-rich garden soil into their former play area.
Even more, they loved watching the tiny seedlings grow into big plants, and learned to check the tomatoes for ripeness. A few years and many cycles of tomatoes, beets, carrots, lettuces, kale, peppers and onions later, they look forward to the days when we pull out the old plants and start turning the soil for the next batch.
Yes, we've had some fumbles. For instance, I had no idea at first that you had to pull apart and cull the carrots once they got big enough. We ended up with the funniest masses of twisted purple carrots. They made for great photos, however, and the kids got a lot of laughs from the funny little root veggies. But we still ate them, and they tasted good!
For Ivan and me, working our garden with our kids grows more than just dinner. It grows in them an understanding of where all of our food comes from. It teaches them to recognize what is healthy for our bodies and why, as well as growing a deeper understanding of what plants need in order to thrive: Sunshine, the right amount of water, protection from critters, and nutrients to build strong plants. That's where Miracle-Gro comes in.
We've taught them that Miracle-Gro helps our plants grow stronger, grow longer, and get bigger. We explain that the soil can't always do it all on its own, just like we can't always do the gardening all on our own, and so we all work together to grow delicious, nutritious food. The kids enjoy taking big watering cans, with the Watering Can Singles in them, around the yard to "feed" not only the landscaping, but also our little garden. All the while, the time together as a family, working on a healthy and happy project makes our family grow stronger, too.
What aspects of gardening have been better than you ever expected? Visit Gro Something Greater and share your gardening stories.
Do you have any tips for us, or suggestions on what our family should grow next? Pumpkins for Halloween, perhaps?