We are fortunate enough to be part of a fairly large family, with the majority of us living within 20 minutes or so from Gramma’s, the family matriarch, place. Gramma lives on the family farm, and has always planted a huge vegetable garden, large enough that the entire clan can enjoy copious amounts of lovely fresh vegetables each summer. Carrots, Broccoli, Peas, Lettuce, Beans, Potatoes, Beets, Parsnips, you name it she plants it.
This garden is huge, probably 100m x 30m, and though everybody pitches in to help Gramma with the planting, too often the maintenance of weeding and keeping everything tidy falls back on her, and as she gets older, it is obvious that it was becoming a bit much for her. The garden is adjacent to the driveway, so for aesthetics sake, it’s important to keep the weeds down as it’s a bit of an eyesore when the weeds get away on her.
We are cursed with having a weed called “chickweed” here in our country, and it’s a horrible creeping & crawling species, that thrives in wet conditions and if left unchecked will literally overtake a garden & choke out everything. It’s exceedingly difficult to hand weed, as it’s prone to breaking up, and each fragment left behind will take hold and start off a fresh growth. The fact that it thrives in wet conditions exacerbates the problem, as if you get a rainy week and can’t enter the plot to do any weeding then you can be presented with an absolute mat of chickweed when it dries up. It was getting too much for one person to handle.
This year we tried something different. Gramma has 19 grandchildren, from 4 families, and ranging in ages from toddlers to teens.
As the garden is adjacent to the drive and in full view of all the cars traveling up it, we decided to plant the rows on an angle to the drive, so each was clearly visible to visitors, then at the end of the row we placed a stake with the lid of an ice cream pail nailed to it, then labeled them all with the name of each of the family members, Moms, Dads & kids alike.
So each person “owned” a row, and it was up to them to keep it tidy. It was amazing at how everybody responded, in fact it became a virtual competition as to who had the tidiest row. If one kid slackened off and didn’t spend his time on his row, then the weeds would sure show it, and a little shame reared its head, and you’d see the little guys out there the next evening. Of course the little ones got their fair share of help from Moms and Dads, and often older siblings as well.
A great side benefit was how it created a fun environment to spend some quality time with siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles, and of course everyone congregated after their weeding session at Gramma’s house for her cookies and treats. Leaning how to build a flower tower is also a great additional option too.
Gramma get lots of visitors and the rows became quite a talking point as everyone was intrigued with the labels and how clean and tidy Gramma’s garden was. As well, it was great to see little ones participate willingly, and see the sense of pride developing with a job well done.
Gramma had a lot easier summer as well.