Hooray! The Dirt to Dinner willow raised bed planter is now home to 14 individual 2×4 planting sections, one for each of the families in the Spring program. And today, April 11th, was finally the day the beds were first planted. The 112′ “L” shaped bed created with willow hurdles from Master Garden Products in Oregon holds about 18″ of soil on disturbed adobe that has been lawn for the last ten+ years, with the sod removed. (We’re still trying to fit it all into the composter in layers–it could be a while!)
The planter now holds different combinations of tomatoes, tomatillos, peppers, chard, beets, carrots, a wide selection of radishes, including one patch with four varieties growing side by side for comparison, lettuce, watermelon, cantaloupe and cosmos, among others!
During the planting of starts and seeds, a square foot of Broccoli Raab starts were transported into the front garden, in hopes of being chosen as residents of the new planting bed. Sadly, one of the broccoli starts did not survive the move. The kids chose to honor the broccoli’s return to the soil with this memorial. ;-)
Not only did we get the planting beds planted today, but we also had lunch on time! (A process it has taken us a while to perfect.) In the kitchen, the kids prepared Strawberry Lemonade, Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Quinoa Confetti Salad with beets, carrots, cabbage, red onion, radishes, celery, fennel and fresh herbs. The sweet potatoes were said to, “smell like a pie!”
The quinoa salad was not as popular with the kids as the kale salad we tried during Class 2 but it was tasty, fresh and welcomed by most of the adults. It made me wonder if there is some more fundamental reason kids tend not to like certain foods. I’ve been reading the new edition of Harold McGee’s classic On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen and in the vegetable section he talks about the chemistry of many of the vegetables we are encouraging the Dirt to Dinner kids to eat, a chemistry which is often a defense mechanism for plants designed to keep things from eating them! What if immature digestive systems are more sensitive to these chemical defenses and there’s a biological reason children turn up their noses at the foods grownups spend a lot of time trying to convince them are good for them? Certainly, feeding them fresh versions right out of the garden gets around any obvious taste or processing-into-tastelessness issues. Just a wild idea. Let me know if you have thoughts better founded in biochemistry than my musings!