From Playland to Penitentiary

Last summer, our backyard garden went through a significant change. The swing set that had occupied the prime real estate in our backyard for the past ten years, finally came down. It was time. In fact, the little boys who played there were the big boys who disassembled it.

When spring came around, we were ready to replace the sad spot of struggling grass and weeds where the play area had been with new hardscaping, including four raised beds and a small square bed in the middle for salvia leucantha and a bird feeder.20130717_180045

The boys are used to having lots of herbs in the yard, but their one request for the new garden was to grow some “food.” This first year, we decided to try eggplants and peppers – something we could be assured of growing successfully. It didn’t take long for the herbs and veggie plants to fill the beds.

Since the kitchen window looks out onto the garden, we all enjoy the satisfaction of peeking out in the backyard every morning and seeing the new herb garden continue to mature. It was so exciting the first time we realized that one of the pretty purple blossoms was turning into a cute little eggplant.

Ah, the anticipation of picking our first “food” from the garden! Oh, the disappointment of realizing that a squirrel beat us to it.

You see, that bird feeder in the center of the garden feeds not just the finches and cardinals but also the fat gray squirrels scavenging around on the ground below. They love our garden. The little thieves have made it necessary to put cages around every plant that has fruit on it.

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My kids and I have nicknamed the garden our eggplant penitentiary. So far, I’ve gotten the price of my eggplants down to $3 a piece ($42 worth of rabbit wire and netting divided by 14 beautiful eggplants). There are several peppers and quite a few more eggplants undisturbed at this point, so the incarceration has been successful.

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It’s been worth the investment to have my kids excited about gardening with me. And it’s true what they say about children liking to eat what they grow. My kids are adventurous eaters, but you can tell how excited they are to eat the grilled eggplant with basil that comes from their own garden.

submitted by: Beneé Curtis, South Texas Unit, South Central District

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