Our Albert Heijn Garden
One of the things I really love about living in the Netherlands is the focus on living with the land. We are surrounded by livestock in yards, petting zoos and farms. Shopping at the farm or market means making a connection with the food and where it is coming from. Our eggs are so farm fresh, that even eggs purchased from the grocery store sometimes still have feathers stuck to them.
In early spring one of the big grocery store chains, Albert Heijn, runs a promotion giving away plants for every €15 spent. Each little packet comes with a few seeds, a marker and starting soil. We live across the street from the most lovely couple who also collected these plants for our kids. At the end of the promotion we had ourselves a whole little garden. We picked up a few other things, planting potatoes from the farm (Hoeve Biesland), some herbs that were a birthday gift and a few mature tomato plants.
The kids are pretty intense outdoor players so we decided a raised bed was a necessity if we wanted our garden to survive. Jeff put together two raised beds from the local gardening store (Intratuin) and then installed greenhouse tents above them to help with the Netherlands temperature shifts.
The boys love to help in the garden. H was able to help with most of the planting. H did all the initial seeding from the Albert Heijn packets. He learned to soak the soil and plant the seeds. In the seeding phase we gave him a small spray bottle to water the plants so he could not overwater them. When we moved the plants outside, H dug the holes to transplant the seedlings. Both boys help with the watering the plants when we don’t get any rain.
In May we had two stupendous weather weeks and our garden, and the rest of the Netherlands, came alive. Since then the garden has continued to thrive turning out usable fruits, veggies and herbs in small quantities.
H is in charge of harvesting. He heads outside to clip the herbs or collect tomatoes. He even prematurely pulled out a carrot for a snack one morning.
I love that this grocery store promotion is something my kids enjoy and is teaching them all about caring for plants and where food comes from.