Starting A Gro Good Garden: You Can Do It, Too!

I have fond childhood memories of the huge neighborhood garden that was next door to my grandma's house. Instead of letting summertime weeds take over the vacant lot, everybody planted corn, collard greens and squash. And in my grandma's backyard, tomatoes grew by the dozen.

Since those days, gardening has become a tradition in my family. My mom isn't really a vegetable grower but I've spent countless hours with her planting flowers and fruit trees, and my sister talks about her own tomato vines like they're pets.

Out here in Los Angeles, I've been missing the gardening experience, and my kids are lacking the connection to the earth that gardening provides. One of the hard things about living in an apartment building is not having a yard to grow my own fruits and vegetables. And sad as it is, because of pollution from the oil wells that used to cover much of Los Angeles, if I grow my own veggies in the ground, they might not even be safe to eat.

But ever since the Obama's gave the go-ahead for a White House garden, I've been thinking that growing veggies in planter boxes is better than nothing. Thank goodness the folks from Scotts Miracle-Gro, the makers of the products that keep my house plants looking like a healthy jungle, reached out to me about their Gro Good campaign. They've teamed up Feeding America and Plant a Row for the Hungry in the hopes of donating over 2 million pounds of food to people who need it. Scotts will donate one million pounds, and guess who gets to donate the other one million?

That's right, you and me.

How could I not pledge to participate in this when I know I a) love gardening and b) know that the statistics are that 1 in 8 households in America experience hunger. And I'm sure those stats are from before the economy crashed and unemployment went through the roof, so I am seriously down with the Gro Good campaign.

By participating in the Gro Good campaign, I pledge four things:
1) I pledge to garden for the greater good.
2 I will plant a little more than I need.
3) I will eat my home grown foods as often as I can.
4) I will donate my extra harvest to a local food bank.

To start off, I got a little Gro Good kit from Scotts and only had to go to buy seeds and some dirt. My kids wanted to grow cantaloupes and watermelons, but I talked them into beginning with something a little easier: tomatoes, carrots and lettuce.

It wasn't hard to follow the directions on the seed packages, and in about 15 minutes yesterday afternoon, we had our boxes planted. My youngest son took the time to comment that the dirt didn't taste so good, "So I don't know why the plants like eating it!"

Why was my baby eating dirt? I honestly don't know. I swear, I really do feed the boy!

This morning he was a little disappointed that nothing had sprouted yet -- uh, this isn't Jack and the Beanstalk, son!

Yes, these city kids have a LOT to learn about gardening. Over the coming weeks, I'll update you with the progress of our little Gro Good Garden so you all can check out what's sprouting in our planter boxes, and what we can hopefully give away to a food bank.

Do you want to participate and make your own Gro Good Garden? To give you an extra push, I'm giving away a Gro Good kit to one lucky winner.

To enter, be a resident of the Continental U.S. and leave me a comment by 11:59 PM Thursday, May 7th, telling me what you'd like to grow in your garden. I'll give you an extra entry if you link to this post on your blog. You can earn another entry if you reference this on Twitter.

I'll pick one entry using a randomizer and announce the winner on Friday, May 8th!

In the meantime, whether you win the kit or not, I hope you sign up and take the pledge to grow a little something. As you can see from our small boxes, a "garden" doesn't have to be the vacant lot that existed in my grandma's yard! Just don't be like my kid and take to eating dirt, OK?


Jameil said…
if I don't win I just don't know what I'll do!!!!!! you'll just have to supplement my tears with copious garden pics. lol @ your baby eating dirt. he was curious!
Girl, tell your baby that I say the same thing every time I have a shot wheatgrass -LOL!

This sounds like fun and such a great project. I've been wanting to start a container garden for a long time. Win or not I'm going to do this.
nick said…
So many people are growing their own food these days, I feel very lazy not doing the same. But I just find it too convenient to nip down to the supermarket. My parents use to grow a lot of fruit and veg when I was a kid and often it had more flavour than the stuff in the shops.
1969 said…
Aww....he ate the dirt. Poor thing.

I want a garden so I can grow tomatoes and peppers with my boys.

They too are city kids with a mom that has no green thumb. Maybe we can both learn together?
Unknown said…
Such an awesome idea!!! Tweet tweet tweeting right now!
k. emvee said…
Just about nothing makes me feel more optimistic about the world than urban gardening. It has an incredible propensity to change our lives for the better and create community across race and age lines in really mind-blowing ways. I first got turned on to urban gardening while I was in college by a great nonprofit in Holyoke, MA called Nuestras Raices.

Living in Seattle I ran into Seattle Tilth and Seattle Youth Garden WorksHere in LA, you have of course the South Central Farmers who used to have a huge and beautiful urban garden that was destroyed and now they have a wonderful CSA, Community Services Unlimited, and two single-family urban homesteads at Homegrown Evolution and Path to Freedom.

I'm so excited that you and your boys are digging in the dirt and growing your own food! I hope you're all having fun with it.
Lotus Flower said…
Wish I had a green could save me a lot of dollars..and a lot of pounds, lol.

Off-topic: LOVE the hair, Liz!
Just Us Two said…
I ate clay when I was younger. What possed me to do such a thing...I'll never know. Gardens bring back memories for me as grandmother had a green thumb. I would love to start a garden and plant carrots, tomatoes, jalapenos, onions etc. Definitely would give excess to a local food bank. What a great idea.
Anne said…
Thanks for the gardening motivation! I'd like to grow tomatoes, peppers, basil, eggplant. Maybe I will grow some string beans or something I haven't tried to grow before.
Jameil said…
oh and i forgot to tell you i'd like to grow an herb garden, maybe some garlic or zucchini.
TKTC said…
I love that you're doing this- I'm buying my tomato plants next weekend and am hoping for some zucchini as well- good luck to all of us!
I'm so glad you're doing this. My small apartment building has a backyard and I'm the only person here who grows things. I have heirloom tomato plants, strawberries, pole beans, various herbs, a meyer lemon tree and baby lettuces, arugula and nasturtium. My cucumbers and peppers got eaten by slugs as soon as they sprouted because I don't use chemicals. Since most of the area is paved, I grow all this in pots and boxes, too.

Please post pictures as your crops grow. And the little farmers, too.
Carolyn G said…
I think it's great that there seems to be amovement towards growing your food. It is so important to eat better and to eat food that you know where it came from. Teaching your kids that growing your own food can be easy is so important.
Lili said…
Great idea, gosh, you are energetic- terrific for the kids too! I have a garden but I'm (shamefully) too lazy to do much about it. I also work long hours in a stressful job so prefer to veg out at weekends.
I can understand your son wanting to eat dirt though - you see - one of my all time favorite smells is that of fresh rain on sand or clay. It is reminiscent of childhood holidays spent in unspoiled countryside. The smell and memories it evokes is so yummy, I too long to bury my face in that rain soaked earth and well...taste it.
Remnants of U said…
Gardening with the "city" kids is a great idea. The entire experience from eating dirt LOL to learning it takes time for the vegetables to grow.

I am thinking about growing an herb garden.
Edan said…
I've wanted to grow my own vegetables for a couple of years now. My husband and I got to the farmers market every Sunday--local, fresh food is so important to us. I'd love to grow my own herbs, plus some vegetables. I'm thinking arugula, beets, and tomatoes.
sippinwineman said…
What a great idea!

I grow tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers - I have to grow more than we eat because the squirrels take bites of the tomatoes and leave the rest along the fence and deck to taunt us - I would much rather donate the extras to a local foodbank - maybe I'll try a few more plants this year (been thinking about adding beans and lettuce). I get the seedlings from the local farmers market.

I also grow herbs on the deck - I seem to have a touch with basil and oregano - still perfecting cilantro and dill.

- sippinwineman's other half :)

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