A couple weeks ago the kids (ages 7 and 9) and I planned the 2013 vegetable garden. Yes, I realize that we are late to the game, as this probably should have been done earlier. But I am an Extension Agent – I’m always late. The kids were excited to impress upon me how many different veggies they are willing to plant and try; however, they were just as quick to point out what they did NOT want.
Beets? No. Too bad kids, beets made the cut.
What about daikon radish? “No. Wait. What is it? Um, still no.”
Potatoes? An immediate ‘no’ from my daughter – more on this a little later.
But they do get excited about numerous other crops – more than enough for our garden space. Carrots, snap peas, cherry tomatoes (notice a flavor trend here?), lettuce, beans, cucumbers, and squash will quickly fill out the beds. As I constantly tell my adult students, I have learned through years of mistakes that it is a much more efficient use of garden space to grow what you, or your family, like to eat. While I love rutabagas, and I am often saddened by the lack of love they receive, they take up a lot of space in my raised beds, and on more than one occasion, some have sat in the vegetable crisper for way too long. We grow crops that we tend to eat often (carrots, lettuce, squash, beans), preserve (tomatoes and beets) or store (potatoes, onions, garlic). Even with that conservative approach, the family always likes to throw in a couple wildcards: watermelon radishes, rainbow carrots, and in 2013, they (okay, me) chose shishito peppers.
Back to the potatoes. My daughter, who has a picky palette, is not a supporter of the spud. Understandable, but here’s the rub: a couple hundred years ago, a French gentleman by the name of Antoine-Augustin Parmentier, who for the sake of this story was most definitely an ancestor of mine, championed the potato as food fit for kings instead of its up-to-then use as animal feed.
In fact, in 1772, the Paris Faculty of Medicine (I am assuming they were important) declared that potatoes were, in fact, edible.
Unfortunately, my daughter has yet to give credibility to this institution, as she thinks they taste like the dirt from which they came. So her disdain, coupled with the fact that potatoes got me into and through graduate school has me on a quest to one day change her mind.
But I won’t make my daughter eat potatoes because I want her to enjoy all the other parts of the garden that she does like. I also want her and her little brother to understand – and enjoy – everything else that comes along with gardening. The bugs, earthworms, and dirt will always bring a smile.
Yet more importantly, at least I hope so as this is my only try at parenting, is to impress upon them how cool it is to watch a plant complete its life cycle; or the reason why we grow some of our own food (my son still wishes that we could grow hot dog plants); and maybe best of all, is that the garden is a place for all us to enjoy.
Isn’t that what it’s all about?