I have run into a few Mormon families lately and, while I don't agree with their theology, I think their commitment to family, planning ahead and being a community are pretty admirable. I especially like the idea of a dedicated Family Night. Working evenings with a sporadic schedule doesn't really make that feasible right now, though.
So I decided our family needs a project to work on together. We need to have a sense of purpose, independence and accomplishment. And because the summer coincides nicely with the end of Dowlan's unemployment compensation, I decided that growing our own vegetable garden was a doubly great plan.
Before our house sprung up on this piece of land, it was an open field. We have about 1-2 inches of brown clay on top of a solid layer of limestone. When Dowlan and I were first married, one of our main sources of entertainment was throwing the rocks in our yard across the street into the ditch in hopes of getting them all out before sod was laid. After several weeks of an hour or more of rock tossing a day, we started getting rid of the rocks underneath the dirt. Dowlan got a steel bar about three feeet long and would pound it into the ground to break up the sheet of rock. Once it was in smaller pieces, we would dig it up and send it to join its rocky brethren across the way.
Every year, we have tilled this area and added more dirt and removed more rocks. Some years we actually got stuff planted, some years we just got the dirt played with. Six years into our life here, we finally started off our spring by going out and saying, "Huh. This is starting to resemble actual dirt," and so we only added another 150 lbs of dirt and manure this time.
On Sunday afternoon, we got the dirt played with and also got new landscape fabric, mulch and rock rings around our trees. Last night, we got the new dirt added in and tonight was the start of planting. The girls and I went on an adventure to go buy seed, then we met the boys at Chick-Fil-A (and were disappointed to discover that kids no longer eat free on Tuesday nights).
We came home, made rows, and planted lettuce, spinach and cabbage as the sun went down. Hopefully, we'll get at least a bit in before the sun fries them. We have a ton of other stuff to get in as soon as we get a bit closer to spring.
The girls are so excited. I know they'll be incredibly disappointed when they realize both how long this really all takes and that this means they'll be expected to eat more vegetables, but it has been a successful endeavor so far.