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Dreaming of My Garden


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Claire and Evie have always been easy eaters, but Grace was picky from the get-go. We’ve worked with her to the point where we can usually talk her into at least trying everything we put in front of her, but that happened not without effort!

This last year her class study at school was all about foods. For more than half of the year they took a weekly mini field trip just a couple stops down on the train to Battery Park. There is an Urban Garden in the park that overlooks the Statue of Liberty and the kids worked there for a few hours each trip. I started to notice over the year that Grace was getting more curious about veggies that she normally had zero interest in (basically anything green).

I started bringing Gracie and Claire with me to the farmers market in Union Square and I would let them pick the produce and sometimes cheeses. It was seriously amazing – if they helped me buy it, they would almost always be willing to eat it for dinner. It was like they were more invested in the meal. Also, it was just fun to have some alone time with my big girls each week.

Now that we’re in Brooklyn, all I can think about is getting some raised garden beds in our little yard. I’m imagining planning the plots with the girls and letting them chose what we plant. Over the weekend I started moving the old flagstone pavers and relaying them in a better pattern. The plan is for the beds to go along the back wall, which gets a range of different light in the twenty-foot stretch. I can’t wait to get this ready for next spring! Hopefully by this time next year we will be enjoying the fruits of our labor.

In the meantime, Grace has asked to take a cooking class as one of her after school activities. She loves to help me out when I cook or bake and I think it can only help her get more interested in trying new foods. I feel like if I can get her to eat swiss chard or kale without flinching, my work is done :) We’re getting there!

Do you have picky eaters? What do you do to get your kids to try new foods? I’m also trying to get my kids to enjoy drinking water more. They usually don’t mind drinking their water, but only after asking for juice (and getting turned down). :)  Ah, the joys of the battle!

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32 thoughts on “Dreaming of My Garden

  1. How wonderful that you are dreaming of a garden for your daughters. Take a look a cedar – for the beds. Bar harbor cedar beds, I could see an herb garden too.
    Herbs add so much flavor to eggs, salads, pastas.

  2. I have noticed that if my daughter helps me cook she will be more excited about trying the meal…..even it has mushrooms, onions and all of that…..I think its because she understands why something gets to look brown in the end….she sees the process and understands. Its so good for them…..and having the opportunity to see how veggies grow that would be amazing!

  3. i appeal to my girls rational.( 4 & 7) I ask them "do you think mama wants to eat something that's not good? therefore does mama fix food that's not good? therefore, just try it" it usually works. they too like to garden as well as the farmers market. I also notice when they cook with me, they tend to anticipate the meal more.

  4. My 2 year old will eat just about any veggie if it is on a pizza! I recently made an eggplant bake of sorts and called it pizza, he asked for seconds. It was a good day, they all aren't hat good :)

  5. This is so adorable! Saw this neat idea for planting a vertical garden, hope this could be useful! (www.eieihome.com/blog/do-it-yourself-vertical-gardens.html)

  6. If you have time to build the beds, there is no reason to wait until spring. A fall sowing of greens and roots will do well. With a minimum of protection you can do way more in cold weather than you can imagine!

  7. When my daughter was little (she's nine now), I would get her to try new things by making them for dinner when we had guests coming over. Her "Company Manners" outweighed her skepticism about sauteed spinach or eggplant. Now she'll try anything.

  8. When my daughter was little (she's nine now), I would get her to try new things by making them for dinner when we had guests coming over. Her "Company Manners" outweighed her skepticism about sauteed spinach or eggplant. Now she'll try anything.

  9. That is such a great idea to have your kids help you out choosing the food, and in turn maybe they will eat it more willingly! Wouldn't it be so funny if your little picky eater grew up to be a chef? I hope she enjoys the cooking classes

  10. My son has autism and is a restrictive eater, worse than just being picky. Colors, smells, textures, tempatures, sounds, you name it. We are slowly adding to his accepted food list (the most recent being pizza but it can't have a speck of anything but cheese, sauce and pepperoni). Our Occupational Therapist gave some great suggestions and so far they haven't produced him eating the new foods but he is touching them and that is progress! She says that in our culture now we often shy away from letting our kids play with their food and really they need to do this in order to experience it with all of their senses. Currently our "playing" consists of painting with carrot sticks and ranch dip. He wouldn't pick up a carrot or have anything to do with a messy dip but he will do it now, although its still not fun and often has to be rewarded with some chocolate milk. Then next step after touching the foods is to kiss or lick them and then talk with your kids about how they feel, sound, taste (get talking about these experiences and helping them to understand their senses). We're getting there, slower than most, but we're getting there! BTW my husband was a very picky eater too so I'm guessing that isn't helping our sons issues. I am going to add in your tricks too as he gets older (he's 3). I do think gardening with him and talking and touching the fruits and veggies at the market might help especially to take them out of the eating context and see them in a different environment. LOVE YOUR BLOG!

  11. My initial training was in horticulture and garden design, so I'm really interested to see what you do with the space!

    I second the recommendation to keep any mint plants separate from the others. Most herbs do well in containers, and there are a lot of attractive containers available on the market these days.

    I wouldn't worry too much about rats unless you 1) see rat-sized holes/turds, 2) plan on having a bird feeder, or 3) have lots of cover for them to hide in (apparently, they love English ivy). Rats are relatively picky eaters: they prefer grain and meat (why having a bird feeder in an urban area may not be the best idea, especially if you use millet). Rats leave most garden veges alone (unlike raccoon, opossums, and a few other critters).

  12. We live outside Chicago and enjoy choosing our seeds/plants, having raised and in ground plots and involving our kiddos all the duties that come with gardening. Our children (8,4,2) are huge salad eaters and love grilled and roasted garden veggies. They go out into the garden with safety scissors and a small collander and snip off lettuces and veggies then we wash it up and serve the salad for dinner. I have noticed them sneaking a few cherry tomatoes around snacktime and picking beans right off the vine. (We have squirrels that steal our berries and tomatoes, but have never had any issues with rats.) Have fun dreaming up your growing spaces for next year! I am sure the girls will all love it!

  13. My mother tells her kindergarten class that as they grow, their bodies are changing, so they may like something today that they haven't liked in the past. She tells them that they should keep trying things they don't think they like, just to see if maybe their body has changed. She repeats this conversation until they've either aquired a taste for the food in question (which is what happens most times) or she's sure they've given it a fair trial.

    I always loved having a hot school lunch in winter, and it really didn't matter what was in there as long as it was hot! In middle school, I started experimenting with my thermos, and one of the quickest, healthiest options I came up with was boiling a cup or two of frozen vegetables every morning before school. Just make sure to warm the thermos really well with boiling water, so that it stays hot until lunchtime.

  14. I do have picky eaters. I do what you do. We go to the grocery store and the kids get to pick a fruit/veggie they want to try. I also take them to the farmers market to help pick new produce to try out. We have the "no thank you bite" rule. They have to take at least one bite, and after that they're allowed to say no thank you. Even if I know my kid doesn't like something I still put 1 bite worth on their plate. As a result they've learned to like some things they used to not like.

  15. I've always loved the idea of having a vegetable patch but the idea of having to build a raised bed is intimidating. Then a few months back I saw in BH&G where a couple used livestock feeders (which come in different shapes/sizes) for their raised beds. I thougth this was genius and want to try it out now! One upside is you wouldn't have to worry about the wood rotting and most are metal, which would add a new matierial to a mostly wood/grass/stone backyard. It was either the May or June issue, if I'm not mistaken, and it was an article about a couple fireproofing their yard. Hope that helps! I'll see if I can find a link to it online…

  16. @ValHalla – Agreed. It's nearing the end of Winter here in Sydney and I'm kicking myself for not sowing some vege seeds this season.

    Our children are picky eaters. Meaning they will pick at something, bite it once, say they like it (my hopes rising), then don't finish it.

    It doesn't help when Grandparents spoil them with junk. Might have to try smoothies or moving interstate. Kidding.

  17. I love this idea! A woman I work with had her boys help her plant a bunch of veggies in her backyard and one day her 4 year old defiantly went out the back door proclaiming that he was going to eat lettuce for breakfast. He really showed her, haha!

  18. Plant "Northern Lights" swiss chard in your new planter boxes. The stems of the leaves are a rainbow of neon yellow, orange, and hot pink! The girls will love having so much color in the garden. I saute mine with butter and pine nuts. Its an earthy flavor but the color is just wonderful! -Lizzie

  19. Plant "Northern Lights" swiss chard in your new planter boxes. The stems of the leaves are a rainbow of neon yellow, orange, and hot pink! The girls will love having so much color in the garden. I saute mine with butter and pine nuts. Its an earthy flavor but the color is just wonderful! -Lizzie

  20. I always give my 3.5 years old daughter water. She drinks juice once a day and brings a water bottle to school everyday. That's how I am training her to become a water drinker :)

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