Wednesday, July 11, 2012

From Little Things, Big Things Grow

I’m a multi-tasker. And not just because, as a mom and business person, I need to be.  I actually really love taking an action that results in multiple benefits. It’s like bargain shopping, only instead of saving money on things, I’m investing time that brings big rewards into my life.

One of my favorite “bonus buys” is container gardening. With the most minimal of materials, I get so much value. My children and I choose our containers, fill them with organic soil and plant seeds for yummy veggies we will all enjoy. But, just like on the late-night infomercials, there’s much, much more.  You see, while we are elbow-deep in the cool brown soil, we talk about the day’s events, or a book we’re reading, or what we plan to do in the future. Somehow, our worries and small grievances meld with the bits of earth that slide between our fingers, and we feel renewed and replenished through our work. By nurturing the seedlings with the regular watering and tending they require, my children learn, in a very concrete way, that their actions matter. And when we harvest and eat the fruits of our labor, not only are we getting fresh, organic food that nurtures our bodies, but we also feel the connection between the workings of nature and what ends up on our plates.

Need more convincing? How about this. Instead of sitting in front of a screen and engaging in virtual activities, my children go outdoors, breathe fresh air, get the benefits of sunlight and move their bodies in real space.  Remember that healthy habits are best started in childhood, so if you don’t want to grow your very own couch potatoes, get your children up and out of the house early and often.

One of the easiest ways to get started is to plant carrots. Here’s how.

First, you’ll need a home for your seeds. Nearly any container can be used, as long as it has good drainage and can fit at least 12 inches of potting soil. If you have a barrel or two hanging around, they are perfect. Drill some evenly spaced holes for drainage, line the bottom with about a half inch of course gravel and fill with organic potting soil to about an inch from the top. Water the soil and wait for it to drain, then plant your seeds and water again with a very gentle stream from a watering can.
Your carrots will sprout in a few days.  That’s when you’ll need to thin them so that they are spaced about a half-inch apart. You can even eat the sprouts – sprinkle them in salads or just enjoy them “a la carte”.

Use organic fertilizer about every 10 days and remember to water often. Containers dry out faster than in-ground soil, so be sure you don’t miss a day. Carrots need lots of sun, so place your container in a spot that gets at least 6 hours of full sun exposure every day.

When the orange shoulders push through the soil, your carrots are ready to be harvested. First, water the soil to loosen it and make the carrots easier to pull. Then, take hold of the crown, give it a twist and lift it out of the soil. And, voila! You have fresh carrots to enjoy.

If you want a steady crop, plant several containers a couple of weeks apart. And while you’re at it, how about some nice fresh tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, or even a tray of sunflower sprouts – the choices are limited only by your palate! Now go out there and get your hands dirty.


  1. Love this post! Great idea! Thanks!

    1. Thank you, Carrie! It's a lot of fun to plant the seeds and watch them grow into food. :)

  2. Thanks Tamera, you are such an inspiration! I love getting my hands dirty & the down time from switching off from work & worries... :) Thanks for the "how to"

    1. Thank you for the kind words, happy2! I agree, working with soil cleanses our minds and refreshes our spirits.