Happy Cinco de Mayo!

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In a recent article, I read about someone who designed a “Pizza

Garden.” This inspired me to suggest you grow a vegetable garden

focusing on your children’s favorite foods.They will be more likely

interested in the garden’s outcome, if they enjoy the idea of what

it will end up in, in a prepared dish.

Since today we are celebrating Cinco de Mayo, I thought of some

vegetables that would be wonderful to include in a Mexican dish.

For next year’s Cinco de Mayo, grow a “Tacos Garden!”

In my son’s garden, he grew red, yellow, and green peppers, hot

red chili peppers, cucumbers, zucchini, squash, potatoes, onions,

corn, watermelons and pumpkins.

Last year, my son and his wife ‘canned’ the red, green and yellow

peppers and onions by being given small batches a quick dunk in

boiling hot water. Waiting for them to cool and then, freeze them in

large freezer quart Zip Lock bags, pressing them to remove all the

air bubbles.

I call this process, ‘flash freezing,’ but not sure if they told me this

or if it is really the correct label.

There may be a more accurate way of describing and naming this

process. My son and daughter-in-law chose to chop onions and

put them in freezer bags. They also used the method of scraping

the kernels off their ears of corn, where they could then boil them,

cool them and pack in freezer bags.

I think you may find how many seconds you boil each food item on

the internet, since they said you don’t want to boil any of the items

too much or they will be ‘mushy,’ when you defrost them.

For a Cinco de Mayo Fiesta meal, you could defrost onions, corn,

and choose your favorite peppers. While waiting to get olive oil,

in a skillet, nice and hot, finely chop up onions and the peppers.

When you have lightly browned the vegetables, set them aside.

If you use a pre-packaged taco seasoning, I recommend the

lower salt ones available.

If you already have a natural pack, or spice jar, prepared with

your favorite taco seasonings, add some of this to the skillet

with the appropriate amount of hot water.

The oil from the onions and peppers will be fine, if you don’t

get it too brown, or black. (Yikes!)

I like to use 80% lean beef, but have used cooked chicken cubes

or ground turkey.

If you are a vegan, you may find some recipes for using other

thickening agents.

On one of my last year’s comments, Celeste had added a link

which will help you out.

Some suggestions were to use tofu, eggplant, kidney beans and

other kinds of beans. If you do this, you may wish to use a soft

shell taco or tortilla.

I like to also top the meat with sliced tomatoes, but if you have

canned diced tomatoes, you may wish to use these.

Drain, of course, and add to the meat, once it has been cooked.

I usually make guacamole, purchase sour cream and low salt salsa

to add for extra spices.

You may vary this informal recipe, but the main focus I wished to

impart was,

This is the time to start planning your vegetable garden!

Having children get involved, is so much more fun and easily

done, when you call the garden, a “Pizza” or “Tacos” garden!

This idea was used in a public area by the Delaware Community

Market. There was a nifty, helpful article called,

“Growing Pizza in Delaware,” by Deena Kloss, in the July, 2013

edition of the free magazine, “Natural Awakenings.”

Here is a list of spices, that the children in the Delaware

gardening “Kids’ Club” planted last year, in the early part

of June:

1. basil

2. parsley

3. tomatoes

4. peppers

5. onions

The “Kids’ Club” was led by garden volunteers, Bob Sullivan-Neer

and Master Gardeners, Regina Grywalski and Diane Gelinas.

They also produced radishes, snap peas and arugula in raised

garden beds.

An amusing sight in the community gardens is a pink painted

step ladder, that got too ‘rickety’ to be used as a ladder. Some

purple morning glory vines were flowering last summer. They are

such a lovely sight!

Another interesting and fun way to ‘recyle’ old and no longer

useful household items included a wooden head- and footboard,

painted bright yellow. Some old wooden pallets, buried partially in

the ground, then, filled with dirt became literally a “flower bed!”

Brightly colored zinnias were popping out, making the kids happy,

last year, to pick bouquets for their parents. I like portulaca, since

you can pinch the dying seed pods and save to plant again the

following summer. They are quite hardy and colorful.

*******************************************************************************

I have added updates throughout this post about children’s

input in gardening.

I babysat my four grandchildren last Saturday night while their

parents had a much needed dinner out and a movie. The kids

were put in ‘charge’ of drawing or listing, foods that would be

ones they would like to grow in their garden.

My son had used individual art pads, using a ruler to add some

lines under the area their drawings would go.

I thought of another way of doing a garden art project, could be

to give the kids old gardening catalogs, scissors, glue sticks and

allow them to practice their cutting and gluing skills.

The grandchildren were excited about the project, which did help

me to keep them occupied for almost an hour. The littlest one,

age 4, Makyah decided that her scribbling free form vegetable

garden was rather hard to explain. I asked her if she would like

me to write her special vegetables, fruits and flowers down on

the lines provided. I also praised (of course!) her lovely use of

colors and designs.

I asked Kyah what the yellow swirls were and she labeled them,

“Corn.”

I wondered what the big bushes of green were and she said,

“Lettuce.”

She had purple stuff, which I asked if they were purple cabbage

and I remembered, too late, a valuable lesson:

**Note:  Never, ever try to guess what children’s drawings are!!

Kyah looked quite impatient and annoyed at me, scolding me,

“No, Nana! Can’t you tell those are flowers?!”

I asked if she knew what kind they were and in a rather superior

tone she said,

“Daddy will know what kind!”

Both Lara, age 10 1/2, and Landen, age 9, drew beautiful and

elaborate gardens with details. They needed some help with

spelling, but the finished projects were awesome.

Marley, age 6 1/2, was very excited about her drawing, stayed

the longest at the table, with her hands covering some of her

drawings, too.

Children will get excited as the plants grow and change. My

older grandchildren say their very favorite ones that came out

of last year’s garden were:

Corn on the cob, watermelon, cucumbers and potatoes.

They mentioned having fried potatoes with onions and since

their mother doesn’t like onions, they told me,

“Daddy makes Mommy her own ‘batch’ of fried potatoes for her

breakfast!

Last but not least, you may remember that their garden produced

a ‘minor miracle’ last Fall!

Exactly 6 pumpkins, just in time for Halloween!

(One for each member of the family, parents included.)

*************************************************************************************

“Yo espero que tengan a muy bueno dia y hasta la luego!”

Sorry, I am not sure why the ’tilda’ on the 2 “n’s” did not appear!

I am not positive but I tried to say in my ‘rusty’ Spanish,

“I hope you had a very good day and see you when we meet again.”

Abrazos y besos.

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35 responses »

  1. My mom used to have us kiddos help her with a garden until she got to busy with work to have a garden anymore. It’s a cool memory, but I’ve never grown a garden since then (no space in my yard). Anyway, I wish I could help you out with vegan taco recipes, but it’s not something that I make. VegNews has a great post about vegan taco recipes, however. Here’s the link: http://vegnews.com/articles/page.do?pageId=4795&catId=2
    Happy Cinco de Mayo! 🙂

    • This was so much fun reading about your family and your memories of gardening. I am fine with suggesting others to look up, using your link. I just wanted to suggest something vegetarian or vegan to add thickening. I suppose adding kidney beans making it more of a burrito with a soft whole wheat taco… Thanks for this, Celeste! You came through right away, my friend to the rescue! Smiles, Robin

  2. Oh, I would love to have a taco tree in my backyard! I love tacos, Robin. We usually have taco night on Friday or Saturday night. I like to put a thin layers of organic black refried beans on the bottom of the taco shell and lots of cayenne pepper. I also enjoy soft shells…oh…my mouth is watering!

    • I really liked this idea of a taco tree! I enjoyed the smiles your comments on how much you enjoy eating them, giving us your added ingredients of organic black refried beans and cayenne pepper, too! Jill, I am off to the Delaware State Park, shall visit your posts another day! Grandkids say the weather is too nice to stay indoors! Smiles, Robin

  3. We always had to weed as kids so I always hated “gardening” until I got older:-) My son always loved picking out the seeds or seedlings for our veggie garden! Happy Cinco De Mayo Robin!!!! Thanks for sharing this!

    • I am so glad you got over that annoying part of weeding and decided to have a garden with your son to help out! I am sure you really made it a fun activity choosing the seeds and seedlings, too! I am off to the park with grandkids, my daughter is coming to bring some food, too! Maybe even a cook out, too nice to stay here and read… will be back to read your post and see the lovely scenery in your photos another day, Tracy!

  4. I love the idea of getting the children involved by growing a taco garden, Robin. Wonderful. But I can’t figure out how I would grow the beef! I don’t have enough room for a cow in the garden. Sorry, just a little Cinco de Mayo humor from Syracuse, my friend!

    • So funny, Mark! You are right, it is not ‘easy’ to grow beef! No one I know has the room in their yards… but that hot rod rodeo girl who sometimes I read her blogs has acres of land… Smiles, Robin Gotta go meet up with family and a cook out, too! I will have some catching up to do soon!!

  5. I am so not a green thumb, where gardening is involved. I did have a veggy garden at one time, with ‘zinnies’, potatoes, tomatoes, pumpkin. The zinnies grew to over a foot long, the pumpkins huge, the tomatoes (those that weren’t consumed by the birds) were red, rosy and plentiful. Also my time and possibly patience grew thin. Lovely idea getting the young ones involved though. Happy Cinco De Mayo to you!!

    • Thank you for this comment! I think you sound like you DID have a green thumb! You produced awesome results in your garden, my dear friend! I am off to the park and will be reading everyone and playing catch up with you, later! Smiles, Robin

      • I wish I had more time to potter, but alas I don’t so it’s off to the supermarket for me each week. Hope you had a lovely time at the park Robin… and you are welcome ❤

      • I bet you would be a great ‘potter!’ Sorry you were heading towards the supermarket, which to me is ‘work’ and I was heading off to ‘play!’ Do you celebrate Mother’s Day? I am forgetting if I read your post today. Anyway, hope it is a wonderful day on Sunday, my friend! Hugs, Robin

    • I love tacos and all things Spanish and Mexican, too! My mother used to bring once a month one of the main entrees to her classes, to encourage their participation in Spanish class. We loved the leftovers and never got sick, although they sat in pans, crock pots and other dishes all day at her high school! Smiles, Robin

  6. What great ideas, both the gardening with children (really involving them) and the specific taco garden and freezing process. I do wish I had done more things like this with my kids when they were younger.

  7. i love these garden ideas and you are so right, if you name them, kids naturally become automatically involved. wonderful spring post robin, as we head towards a warm summer (hopefully)

    • It will be a great and fantastic summer! I used to have the little preschoolers plant seeds in Styrofoam cups in April for Mother’s Day. Sometimes, though, a little too much watering and we would substitute little pansies that magically appeared overnight! Smiles, Robin

  8. Gardening with children is a great idea. When I planted an avocado seed with my niece, she expected to see something happen right away. Gardens are a great way to help a child relate to the concept of time since they are so used to everything happening right now.

    I love the taco garden idea – reaping the rewards by eating the things you grow. And getting pumpkins in time for Halloween – Que bueno! (Your Spanish is still pretty good.) – Mike

    • Muchas gracias, Miguel. Your compliments were so special and made me feel like I had created a great idea. I feel your niece watching the avocado seed will be a longer wait than the grass seeds or chia seeds I used to use for fun preschool activities. We also liked them to try their hands at watering little marigolds for a week leading up to Mother’s Day. This was good practice at restraint. ha ha!

  9. How nicely you have described the whole process of a ‘Garden Pizza’ or a taco garden. You gave variety of informal recipies which I liked so much. Thanks for sharing this post written for children.

    • You are most welcome, thank you for such wonderful compliments. I feel you would be able to adapt this to other cultures, ones where their country’s main foods were the focus.
      I loved when my Grandpa showed me how to grow asparagus, where you mix the dirt or top soil, with sand. They grew against his garage and really seemed to make me enjoy eating them more, too. Smiles!

  10. I like easy to grow and easy to cook. I have a lot of grandchildren, some coming to holiday with me soon. Your garden pizza idea might work with them too.

    • Garden pizza or garden taco. . . doesn’t matter how you decide to ‘market’ it with the grandchildren, they may help out. Something about digging in the dirt, pulling out weeds and watering… kids love all of this. Oh, my other favorite grandkids idea is to go and buy $1 flashlights if you have a dollar store and get a package of batteries, go outside in a safe and nearby place and play hide and seek. My grandchildren even like to hide in my one bedroom apartment! ha ha! I have to pretend to look everywhere until I ‘find’ them! Happy Mother’s Day, my new friend!

  11. Robin, you strike me as a born teacher. You always mention such clever ideas that are so educational for children! I love this garden idea!!!

    • This is always a nicer way to describe me, Luanne. Thank you very much!
      Since I could be considered (let’s think back to exes, hmmm…) “bossy,” “hold too high of expectations,” and “a list or chore maker.” Seems like good qualities can have their downfalls, smiles!

  12. Growing a ‘dish’ garden is such a beautiful idea. I wish I could unpack my house fast enough and settle down to grow more…this is inspiration enough though. Thank you

    • I like having simple places, baskets, bowls or even window boxes inside, to hold herbs or small plants. Hope you do get motivated and let me know how it all turns out. I am a weekend ‘catcher upper’ with my blogging and found you in awaiting approval. So thankful for your visit. Heading over to peek in on you! Smiles and have a great weekend. Happy Mother’s Day!

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