THREE WEEKS BEFORE
Send e-mail invites to family members and close friends. Bribe them with promises of delicious food the whole summer long.
TWO WEEKS BEFORE
Decide where to plant your garden. Start small -- for a first-time gardener, a plot of 100 square feet is about right. You don't want to bite off more than you can hoe! Pick a spot that gets a ton of sun, and mark off the edges of your garden plot.
ONE DAY BEFORE
Go to your local garden center and buy your seeds and tools: large and small shovels, a hose, gardening gloves, fertilizer and topsoil (to supplement the dirt and add nutrients your new plants will need).
Make and refrigerate dessert, like our Sour Cream Strawberry Custard, and stir up a giant pitcher of lemonade to keep everyone quenched throughout the day -- digging a garden is thirsty work! Once everyone arrives (and has a cup of said beverage), pass out shovels and take a "before" picture next to the garden site with the whole crew.
Together, dig out your garden bed, removing any rocks, weeds, grass and flotsam. Don't remove the dirt! Just rid it of debris. This is the hardest part, but it's crucial to a healthy garden. Make a game of it: Award a small prize to the person with the biggest pile of flotsam and jetsam. Almost done -- just spread out your topsoil and mix in fertilizer. Reward your sweaty workers with an easy picnic lunch of spring strawberries and chicken salad sandwiches.
BY THE AFTERNOON...
Assign each person his or her seed packets. Read directions together and make sure everyone understands their tasks. Have little ones dig holes and drop the seeds. Once everything is in the ground, give your garden a light watering. Then step back and admire your handiwork. While everyone is together, set a tentative harvest date in August or September. On that day, remember to take an "after" picture to show off the results of today's hard work!
AT DAY'S END
As thanks, invite everyone inside for bowls of refreshing, tart Sour Cream Strawberry Custard. And treat yourself to seconds. After all, you just gave back to the earth.
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