Photographer Adrian Gaut and his family bought their house in the Hamptons last year, but it wasn’t until recently that they found the time to tackle a project they’d been dreaming of: building their own vegetable garden from scratch in the backyard.
Although this task can be intimidating—especially for a newbie gardener like Gaut—he’s found it to be interactive enough to keep his 5½-year-old son, Mies, entertained while they’re stuck at home. “He’s very excited about the process and doing almost everything himself,” says Gaut. “This is a really hands-on activity—it’s interesting for both of us.” Here’s how the family is getting started on their very own victory garden, even as novice green thumbs, and how you can do the same at home.
Plant Your Seeds
All you really need to start a garden is potting soil, seeds, and a shallow container—which can be egg cartons, Tupperware, or a paper towel roll cut up into smaller circles (Gaut and Mies used plastic egg crates). Plant whichever kind of seeds you’d like, but if you’re planning on keeping your garden indoors, instead of eventually moving the seedlings outside, it’s best to stick to herbs and small vegetables like lettuce, baby carrots, radishes, peppers, and onions. So far they have planted radishes, turnips, cucumbers, beans, tomatoes, shiso, Swiss chard, arugula, and cherry tomatoes. Newcomer to the gardening scene? Follow Ryan McCallister’s step-by-step seed-starting guide (you can trust him—he is Martha Stewart’s personal gardener) and you’ll be set.
To channel your inner Bill Nye, add an extra layer to the project: Encourage kids to keep a notebook, observing how the seedlings grow and change over time. “We’re taking it day by day, measuring the spouts and drawing them,” says Gaut. “It’s exciting for Mies to make the connection between the seeds and what we eat, and to get involved with planning the garden.”
Bring It Outside
Gaut—with the help of Mies—also constructed raised garden beds with walls (to keep out any misbehaving deer). Once the seedlings have sprouted at least an inch or two, they’ll be ready to be transplanted outside, where they can get the space and sunlight that they need to flourish. We see many garden-to-table meals in the family’s future.
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