I am grateful that gardening restarts each year and the learning that comes from making mistakes and being able to build on that growth for the next year. Last year, I planted a lot of different things and had no idea I needed weed control in place! That resulted in an entire row of tomatoes that I couldn’t keep up with when it was time to harvest; especially when I’m the only one in my household that likes tomatoes!

Also, the weeds didn’t seem like a problem at first, then our garden became an untamed forest. Learning from last year, we only have a few tomato plants growing, and put landscape fabric on the entire garden. Why? Because three kids under four. What has been fun to see is that two of our kids this year have been able to be more involved doing things like watering the garden and cutting lettuce. It’s been fun to see them caring for the garden and not tearing it apart!

The Build It Up program has been such a great support system to begin this journey of gardening. Not only has it been a blessing to receive all the tools, seeds, plants, etc we need, but also the community and accountability through it. It has given me the confidence to get started and keep working at it. This year, we planted what we ate the most last year. Lettuce has been growing like crazy and it has been so fun to harvest it daily to use in salads, as lettuce wraps, or just put spinach in anything from smoothies, to taco meat, and burgers.

We try to incorporate spinach into anything we can for our kids’ added nutrition. Because of the large harvest of kale, my goal is to make kale powder out of our kale to have throughout the year and add to dishes and smoothies. The most amazing thing about gardening is seeing the plants grow from seeds to full on food!

There have been weeks where we haven’t put in as much time weeding or watering, but things still grow. It’s so fun to keep track of the harvest and see how much our little garden is growing! One of the challenges that we are currently facing and needing to work on is the grass growing around the garden. We put up a fence last year and the grass is growing up directly next to it. This year we should have taken it down in the winter to kill the grass then put the fence up again, but again, three small kids. We are now having to give the garden a haircut every week or so!

Our family is looking forward to continuing to grow food each year for ourselves, family, friends, and neighbors! We are so thankful for everyone who puts in hours of work and resources throughout the year so that we can learn and be a part of this program! – Katie Ohlin