Tackling concern #1, getting the garden started at almost 9 mo pregnant:
J is almost 5. He's become quite the helper and was super eager to help us with all steps off setting up the garden. This was probably our most successful garden shopping experience yet with him. He wanted to buy almost every sprout at the gardening store (because of our limited window space, we start most of our garden with store bought sprouts). We settled on lemon cucumbers, regular cucumbers, and cherry tomato plants, and we are germinating bell peppers and green beans.
Here's J helping us plant the tomato plant:
He then staked the tomato plant since tomato plants like to have support to aid their growth.
Then he helped water all of the plants.
Our strawberries survived another winter and already have buds! This surprised us because we're in the middle of the worst drought in CA record keeping (and we basically ignored them all winter). This is 3 years in a row for our strawberry plants - definitely a great investment for us. I still love our strawberry planter (affiliate link).
We're trying cucumbers again this year. They were really successful last year, maybe even too successful because we saw how many cucumbers were growing, but they would disappear before we'd get to pick them (it was a hot summer last year and they are mainly water - the neighborhood critters got to them before we could). Going into gardening cucumbers last year, we didn't know/realize that they were a climbing plant, so this year, we spread them out a little more and gave them a cage to grow on. I hope keeping them off the ground will keep some of the critters away. We'll probably end up netting them again.
We just planted the green beans and bell pepper seeds. They are currently in terra cotta pots in our window sill. I'm hoping they'll sprout in time to get them in planters before the baby comes. If not, it'll be shortly thereafter.
As for concern #2, keeping other living things alive:
I think I can manage a garden, especially since I'm on maternity leave for a few months. The garden is right outside our apartment. If we had invested in a community garden plot, motivation to get out and about would be harder to find.
We're focusing on planting things that can be harvested all summer long. I love seeing J pull off green beans and strawberries, wash them with the garden hose, and pop them in his mouth. We haven't had good luck with our larger tomato plants, but we've done alright with cherry tomatoes in the ground in the past. I'm hoping we can do alright with this year's cherry tomatoes in a pot to give J the satisfaction of eating them all summer long.
If you have any tips to get the most from our plants, I'd love to hear them. How do you deal with critters? Ours are mammalian (raccoon and squirrels). How often do you replenish your soil? Do you use any plant food? Do your kids eat more veggies when they help in the growing process?