Posted by: Darrin Parmenter, La Plata County Extension
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
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
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?