As soon as the forecast reads a high of 45 and partly cloudy, New Englanders rush outside to feel the fresh breeze and warm sun on our faces. We spend our winters anticipating the triumphant return of longer days so when the thermometer reads warm enough, we shed our layers and run outdoors. The same holds true for my little family, especially now amidst a stay-at-home order here in Connecticut. Every morning we wake up, throw our boots on and get in the dirt.
We live in Litchfield County - an area known for its picturesque countryside and exquisite farmland - so for us, staying home means an opportunity to dive into the resources our incredible area provides and turn our backyard into an overflowing garden oasis.
We still have a lonnngg way to go before our fridge is full of the produce we’ve grown and our rooms boast beautiful bouquets of flowers from our cut garden – but learning and getting our hands dirty has proven to be a consistent refuge for my family during these unsure times.
My two sons, Jack (3.5) and Liam (1.5), who I affectionately call my farmhands, have both been incredibly helpful, but Jack has taken on a significant role and interest in helping with the garden plot and our raised beds. A lot of preparation has gone into cultivating and planning the space in order to get it ready for planting season (which, hopefully will be May 1 for cooler temperature-loving plants!) and the garden has provided an extraordinary sense of security for him.
From choosing seeds for his favorite vegetables like cucumbers, carrots and lettuce, to checking in with our little sprouts that currently reside on the kitchen table, Jack has developed an incredible sense of responsibility and independence over the last few weeks of seed starting.
Thinking about digging into your own garden project? Whether you live in an apartment or have acres of land before you – there are so many options to grow your own food and flowers and enjoy them throughout the summer season!
Container gardens are a great way to incorporate fresh herbs into your daily meals and are incredibly easy to maintain. Pop a few of your favorites like basil, dill, rosemary, oregano or thyme in terracotta pots on your windowsill and watch them grow! There’s nothing quite like the taste of fresh basil on your caprese salad or fresh tarragon in your lobster roll.
Raised beds are another great way to ease into the gardening world. They keep your plants and veggies safe from weeds and other critters by keeping everything contained in one spot. We are using our two raised beds for cut flowers - that way we can continue to rotate the plants throughout the season and have fresh blooms for as long as possible. Other great features of using raised beds: they're incredibly easy to build, they’re long lasting (especially when you use the right materials such as cedar) and they’re completely customizable depending on the amount of space you want to dedicate to the garden!
In ground beds are another great way to utilize the full sun areas you have at your home! While this type of gardening definitely requires more learning and research - especially in regards to soil type, watering and drainage - in ground beds are an easy way to harvest vegetables and herbs using space you already posses.
In a time where shopping small is incredibly important, we’ve been supporting as many local farms and nurseries as possible to help us build out our dream garden. Many retailers have created online ordering and contactless curbside pick up for things like established herbs, plants, pots, soils and seeds; which I highly recommend.
While we had anticipated and planned trips to the lake, the mountains and the islands to see our family in Cape Cod and Nantucket – instead we shifted gears, adapted to our new normal & look forward to the bright, bountiful days ahead!