Gardening With Ruku: Discover the fun in your backyard!

[This guest post was written by Ruku Kazia. She lives in Virginia with her husband and their three daughters. She enjoys reading, coffee and spending time with her family.]

A few months ago (February), I decided to start our very own vegetable garden. With three little daughters, I wanted to do something that would get the entire family involved and what could be better than being outside, digging away in our very own backyard?

I really knew nothing about this particular activity that I’d decided to undertake, but after eating the delicious produce from my neighbor’s garden in New Jersey I thought, “how hard can it really be?”

Squash in Ruku’s garden

Turns out, not too hard but not quite as simple as I’d thought either. Growing up I’d see my parents plant fenugreek and flowers out in our balcony. Not an easy task in hot, humid Dubai. I also remember my grandmother’s splendid yard in India, where she lovingly planted a variety of fruit trees and plants.

Hoping some of their genius and green thumb ran in my blood, I started by talking to my gardener who assured he’ll help me every step of the way. He dug out a small patch in our backyard and added, “You can dig too if you like Miss, good exercise!” Then he put in some garden soil and by the end of April we were in business.

Jalepenos in Ruku’s garden

Here are some ideas on how to get started :

1. Read up and talk to the people at your local nurseries (Yes you can do it! – and they really will help).

2. If you’re skeptical try with a couple of pots of herbs first. I’ve found fenugreek and cilantro are the easiest. (Put some soil in a pot , line with seeds, top with more soil, water daily and voila!)

3. If you’re not sure whether to dig a hole in your backyard, start out with a raised bed garden.

4. Find out what vegetables and fruit should be planted for your area/season.

5. Set a time daily to water your garden – preferably early morning and evening when the soil is less likely to dry out

6. Weed, Weed, Weed – the happier your plants are, the better they grow.

7. Get the whole family involved – My cousin helped us plant the veggies. My kids love to water the plants. And overnight my husband has turned into a master gardener.

Beautiful fenugreek on Ruku’s deck

Our little patch now boasts tomatoes, chillies, fajita peppers, eggplants, okra, squash, cilantro and oregano. We also have pots of mint, strawberries and fenugreek out on the deck. Picking and cooking these garden delights have turned into a priceless adventure for us.

From watching the joy on the baby’s face while she sucks on her first strawberry and chuckling at the funny comments made by my 4 year old (What do you mean the eggplants don’t grow eggs?) to hearing the wonder in my 7 year old’s voice (Wow I never knew squash tasted this good!) this little exercise has literally bore fruit.

One of the very first recipes we tried was Golden fried squash. Here’s our recipie:

Golden Fried Squash

Yummy Golden fried squash

Wash and cut 2 squash in quarter inch pieces.
Mix two beaten eggs with salt, pepper and ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning.
Dip each slice of squash in the egg mixture.
Roll in breadcrumbs and fry till golden brown.
Serve hot with marinara sauce.

Get started with your garden today and have fun making memories with your children. I know I certainly did!