The buzz surrounding the latest food scare -- salmonella-tainted tomatoes -- is substantial. One network is busy reporting the situation is only going to drive up the cost of these precious summertime gems, while another says this will steer even more folks away from anything fresh. (I reckon now’s a good time to be in the canned food business.)
As y’all might imagine, this got me thinking about a whole host of things ranging from eating local to growing your own fruits and vegetables to the FDA (oy, vey!). But I’ve mostly been thinking about the Young Ones (and I don’t mean Vyvyan, Rick, Neil, and Mike). I’m referring to my kids and their friends who need a constant reminder of where their food comes from and continual reinforcement that growing your own tomatoes, for instance, is easy (and important!) even if you don’t live on a farm.
We live in the ’burbs, so all of my family’s edible gardening is done in containers, but we still manage to grow enough stuff (i.e. tomatoes, peaches, peppers, basil, thyme, lavender) to share with those we love.
These days, few things make me happier than watching my girls water our tomatoes each morning, then carefully check their progress (“When will they be ready daddy?”) What I see in their faces over and over again is a genuine pride in growing up these tomatoes and a sense of wonder when they realize that tomatoes come from a vine (and not from a bin in the grocery store…or from a tree…or from under ground…or from outer space, for that matter).
And here’s the great part. Growing tomatoes (and the like) couldn’t be easier. You don’t need fancy pots or exotic tools. All you really need is some good dirt, good plants, a little fertilizer, a $1.38 tomato cage, and a willingness to care for them. Easy peasy.
If you need a little help or advice in getting things up and running, check The Grumpy Gardener – an outstanding (and often hilarious) gardening blog from my buddy Steve Bender.
Now get out there and get planting. Trust me, your kids will thank you.
NOTE: I know I’m not the only one who recognizes the importance of getting kids in the garden. I’d love to hear what you’re doing. Please share your favorite story (or stories) and let me know what you and your kids like to grow – I’d also love to know how everything comes together in the kitchen too.