Gardens are wondrous and miraculous creations where all manner of things will grow. If you start by planting seeds, whether seeds you collected and saved, purchased, or borrowed from an enterprising library, it is truly something to watch a little seed grow into a plant and for that plant to eventually produce a flower, or tomato, or cucumber, or whatever you are trying to grow. Gardens are also wonderful teachers and just a great reason to spend time with someone “being productive”. I wrote about gardens as teachers a number of years ago in The Quiet Teacher. The little girl sitting on my lap in the photo isn’t so little anymore.
“My” garden is at a family house in the central Arizona mountains. It is the first vegetable garden we have tried that actually produced something and is of any size. My niece and nephew grew-up with that being one of their houses and we would all spend considerable time there escaping the Phoenix heat. Although we can’t really figure out why we got into gardening at this scale, we did, and the kids were there participating in the journey.
Jake and Ava and I spent lots and lots of time together in the garden. We planted plants, picked bouquets of flowers, harvested whatever vegetable or fruit we could, and dug lots of holes and trenches. We would often just walk around the garden talking about the different plants and smelling the various herbs. I would periodically give them pop-quizzes to test what they remembered, assuming that is what was important to them. Wherever I was, at least one of them was right there with me. I would usually try to explain why we were doing something. Jake would almost always have a suggestion for a different way. Then we would be sidetracked when a worm or slater (a pillbug here in the US) was found. We would have to find a new home for that find before we could continue with anything else.
Now that the kids live elsewhere we don’t spend much time together in the garden. However, we have sent them lots of seeds to start their own garden. Apparently they were paying attention during the years we spent together in the garden. Ava gives her mom directions on what to do and helps her out. Jake planted a variety of sunflowers that he is waiting to bloom, and it should be quite a variety of sizes and colors. They even went to the library to get a bunch of seeds to start. The photos this week were taken by my sister of their garden. Ava now wonders in her garden looking at the plants and playing with slaters. I am sure Jake still wants to dig trenches and holes while he waits on the sunflowers. My little helpers now grow beets better than I have been able to the last couple of years.
Now, go plant a garden with your kids, or nieces and nephews, or grandkids. Neither the size nor what you plant are important. The plants will be the least important thing that grows in your garden.