Do you garden? Planning to start a garden so you can grow your own organic vegetables? Then please! Include those grandkids!
My husband is the gardener in our family. He loves it, and I love to reap the benefits. On any given day, you can often find me tripping out to the garden to pick my breakfast--that is to say, to get some wonderful, healthy greens for my morning smoothie. But I'm not the only one who enjoys it--our grands do too. And not just for the fruits and veggies--it's a magical place and great for hiding.
We've had a garden most of our married life. My husband was raised by a wonderful father who always planted a garden for their family--and it was enough to supply them most of the year. So I think it was in his blood--for sure it was only natural for him to always find a space in our yard to grow a garden. And to give his kids and grandkids the experience.
But I really should let him tell it. Here's Alan~
"When our three grandchildren come over to our house, one of the first things they do is check out the garden. I don’t have to go with them—I trust them in knowing what vegetables can be picked and which veggies are not ready for harvesting. They know exactly how to scratch the surface of the ground to see if a carrot is ready or look carefully at a strawberry to check its redness. This was not always the case. When younger, one grandkid pulled most of the carrots out of the ground looking for one that could be eaten—there were none. Another pulled several large radishes out of the ground, but was not going to eat them. But not so today—they know exactly how to determine when a vegetable is ready. And they know exactly what do with the parts not eaten—put them in the compost bin. One of my greatest joys was teaching my grandkids how to grow a garden. I wanted to introduce them to the “fun” of working in the garden and growing vegetables and seeing where some of their food is grown. Many kids only see vegetables in the grocery store or when they sit down and eat. In the garden, there are many lessons that can be taught.
They eventually learned the technique for checking for readiness to be picked. These carrots were delicious.
Beginning the garden~
When the kids were much younger, I would invite them over to help with planting the garden. My oldest grandson got in on the ground level (no pun intended) and helped me when I first laid out the garden. As more grandkids were added to our family, I would invite them over to help with planting the garden. First, we would decide where we were going to plant seeds and set out young plants. We would add compost to the raised beds while I explained the importance of good ingredients needed in the garden soil. This was a good biology lesson in how organic matter breaks down into needed food for the plants. We then tilled the soil and smoothed it out and then determined the length of the rows for the seeds. We checked the seed packages for planting depth and distance between the seeds. In transplanting young plants, they learned how to dig the holes and carefully set the plant. And of course, what a treat it was to get their hands dirty!
As the garden plants began to grow, the kids were taught how to recognize weeds from the vegetable plants, and the importance of removing the weeds, so they would not take away needed water and nutrition from the vegetables. As the plants matured, the kids were taught how to determine when the vegetables were ready, how to harvest them, and how to utilize the compost bin to toss parts of the vegetable not used. As your grandkids tend the garden, and watch it grow, they will see firsthand how their efforts lead to vegetables they like to eat. Children develop new skills and learn about science and nature from growing their own food.
They eventually learned to pick only what they would actually eat. And they seemed to enjoy washing the vegetables outside under the garden hose (less mess in the kitchen). They also wanted to know why I planted marigolds in the garden--they stated and rightly so, you can't eat marigolds. They learned a valuable lesson on how some plants, such as marigolds, can deter insects. And they learned about composting~-even when my wife is cooking with veggies from the store, if our grandkids are in the kitchen, they will ask if they can take the raw scraps to the compost pile!
Gardening can seem like magic to children--planting seeds, watching them grow and then harvesting what they planted. Obviously, patience must be taught. Gardening also teaches responsibility. Working in a garden, a child can experience the satisfaction that comes from caring for something over time. And the greatest blessing of all? Involving them in planting, composting, weeding, and watering offers a wonderful opportunity to spend time together. And isn't that what life is all about?
Enchanted garden? Yes. I love our garden, and I love my husband for sharing his gardening experience in my blog this week. It really is an enchanted place. It's like a secret garden for our grandkids. I've watched them when they were little run and hide in there. It's just a small plot behind our garage, but I can imagine to younger kids, it seems pretty big. Just another wonderful custom and experience to share with our grandkids. If you don't have a garden, perhaps this will be inspiration to start one. And please share any gardening experiences you have. Even if it's just going to your grandparents' home in the country in those days of yore. Wonderful memories!
I wasn't kidding about picking greens from the garden in the morning. Here I am in our winter garden when spinach, kale and other greens do their best.
"The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul." --Alfred Austin
Retired school teacher and now full time grandmother sharing ideas and looking for new ones about grandparenting!