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We have a very special introduction to make.
RMHC supporters meet Stevie. Stevie, meet the RMHC family.
For those of you unfamiliar with her, Stevie has a blog called Garden Therapy. While she mostly writes about gardening and her green thumbs, you can also find do it yourself projects, recipes, and crafting ideas on her site.
Since many Ronald McDonald Houses boast beautiful flower and vegetable gardens – places where families can find respite and ‘garden therapy,’ we thought we’d invite Stevie to share some of her stories here, on our website so you can recreate these lush landscapes at home.
In her first article, Stevie shares some tips about what to grow in your garden. Take is away, Stevie.
Green Thumbs Up
It’s midway through the summer, and you’re asking yourself why certain things grew, others didn’t, and still others were eaten by the rabbits that sneaked into your yard during the early morning hours. You are asking why your neighbor’s bed has more color and diversity than yours? And why your kids still won’t eat broccoli, even if you grew it yourself? It’s time to assess. And strategize for the remaining season and next year.
First, think about your environment and your climate. You’ve got to pick vegetables, fruits, or herbs that work where you are. Check local seed companies and garden centers and ask what will grow successfully in your area. Or take a walk around your neighborhood on a sunny Saturday and ask local gardeners for advice. I have yet to meet a gardener who wouldn’t happily answer every one of my questions if I just walked up and asked. Heck, I usually get a full garden tour and a handful of fresh blueberries to take home with me, along with my wealth of information.
Next, pick what you love but can’t readily buy at your grocery store or farmers market, like Cheddar cauliflower, Aunt Molly’s Ground Cherries, or Filius Blue hot peppers. Kids will revel in broccoli if it is purple and it’s a joy to pull a carrot if you don’t know if it will be red, purple, orange, or white!
Finally, be mindful of your gardening conditions when picking your seeds or starter plants. If you have full hot sun with little rainfall, pick drought-tolerant and heat-loving varieties of peppers, eggplants, tomatoes and fennel. If you have some shade in the afternoon you’ll be primed for a summer lettuce and herb bed. If you only have a balcony or small deck, pick up dwarf cultivars or varietals marked especially for good production in containers. You may find these will actually do better in containers, as is the case with Fairy Tale eggplants, who so love having their roots kept warm in a pot that they’ll thank you with an abundance of the best pink and green striped eggplant you’ve ever tasted.
There is no question that growing your own groceries is good for you. Getting your hands in the dirt, making delicious food from a tiny seed and harvesting nutrient-rich produce in your own backyard is healthy for body and soul. Gardening with kids helps the new generation learn where food truly comes from and gets them excited to gobble up every strawberry in sight. Even the finicky eaters can be coaxed into eating their greens when they take part in the planting, watering and harvesting of beans or peas right off the vine. For me, the joy is in the beauty that welcomes you home after a long day, the pop of a cherry tomato fresh off the vine, and the endless reward of dinner made truly from scratch.