Anyone who has been following The Contented Life on Instagram may have noticed there has been some intense garden projects happening here. Well we are very excited to tell you that we have been busy building the foundations for our own Vegetable Garden.
When we moved, one of the things I missed about our old home was our little vegetable garden. It was nothing magnificent, but it was ours. A place where the kids and I played, looked after the plants and they, in return, looked after us by providing some yummy vegetables for us to pick and eat.
As a Nutritionist I believe in knowing your foods journey, and what better way to know then to grow your own (Yep, Michelle Bridges I am a “Freak”…I own that). But as a Mum, my true inspiration to have this space is driven by the desire to get my kids outside. Out in Nature, in the great outdoors. Experience what life truely has to offer that is not ruled by the allure of the television or iPad screens. I have such beautiful memories that were created at my grandparents house. We would spend hours exploring the neighbouring bushland, walking to the local beach, followed by feeding the ducks at the pond (running from snakes) and then collecting rhubarb and strawberries from the garden that my Nanna would prepare for dessert. Our visits there provided us with a little sanctuary away from the scheduled lives we had in the city. I wanted my kids to have similar experiences in life. That was part of the reason we decided to move from the city and have a coastal life and be closer to my husbands family farm. The best of both worlds!
This year I made a request. I asked my husband to build me a veggie patch. I looked through multiple Pinterest pages and made my own board. Compiling images of my dream garden. Somewhere I could spend time with the kids and get them involved in the process.
The whole project was a family affair…equal parts fun, getting dirty, learning new skills, and (of course) the frustration of juggling the kids needs and our desires to get the job done. But it provided us with an activity to do all together, as a family. Grandad and our Nephew offered a helping hand too. As long as they were fed and kept hydrated (coffee and H2O, and perhaps a beer at the end of a long day) they kept working.
The handyman at work. He is amazing!
As we began the project it started off relatively small, utilising some dead space where the kids play equipment used to sit, but it kept on growing and my dream plans were magnified by about 1,000! My husband, never one to do things by halves, decided to really make a veggie patch. And so the “Taj Mahal of veggie gardens” (as it is lovingly known) was born.
The whole process was amazing. I was even given lessons on how to use the “Man tools” (AKA – Auger – basically a big massive drill, drop saw and nail gun). Hubby sourced some old timber and wood from the family farm and we used these to frame and build the garden beds – “Upcycling” at its best. As we finished the garden beds, it was time to choose the ground cover surrounding them. Although some crusher dust and pavers would have done the job, hubby decided he wanted more work and a deck was the only way to go.
Once everything was ready, it was time for the dirt. Some good organic soil was the only option from the local landscape supplier (no complaints here) and wow, it was good. We had to leave it to settle in for a couple of weeks and then I was allowed to purchase the babies. I made a few trips to the markets and the garden shop to pick out the seedlings. We were also gifted some seeds from a neighbour. Given that I am not really a “green thumb” and would be learning along the way, we decided to start off with a small selection and add to it later once we knew how everything was going.
- Red Onion
- A good selection of herbs including: coriander, parsley, rosemary, mint, dill, oregano, basil and chives.
- and some lavender to help repel insects.
They have been growing for a good 2 months now and, although some are still small, they are going so well with some plants even providing us with some tasty delights. We have had such fun picking things straight from the garden and eating them.
So, this turned into a much larger project than first planned, but I wouldn’t change a thing. Its our own little sanctuary in our backyard and the kids are constantly excited when they see new things sprouting or the vegetables taking shape or changing colour. They get even more excited when I tell them it is ready to pick and eat. This will be a constant source of free entertainment and the kids are receiving a vital life skill. Learning that nature is fascinating and provides lots of fun and nourishment (for body and mind) if we allow it. Learning that food can be grown and not just purchased in a box in a supermarket aisle. Learning about the different fruits and vegetables and why we eat them.
How great is it to let the kids know how food is grown, that it does not come pre-cut, pre wrapped or even pre-prepared, and how we CAN do it ourselves. There is no better satisfaction than eating something that you have helped nurture and grow. The kids love learning and being involved in this whole process. It provides a great opportunity to teach them about plant food and the importance of the “paddock to plate” philosophy.
If you have a space in your backyard, why not get planting. It doesn’t have to be large or be a massive project (like ours became). Even a few small pots of herbs, strawberries or tomatoes will be a great start. Get the kids involved. Get them outdoors in the sunshine, giving them a good dose of Vitamin D, and let them learn how to nurture something that, in turn, will help nourish them. Body and Mind!
We can’t wait for these little beauties to keep growing and provide us with our very own home grown food. I am so glad we embarked on this family challenge. We spend so much time up here together…the kids love helping to water the vegetables and love using the deck as a “race track” for remote control vehicles, or scooters and bikes. It also doubles as our watering hole too. A place to sit back and enjoy a beer or a wine in the late afternoon glow of the sun while watching the kids play and taking in THE CONTENTED LIFE.