We are just now getting our little garden started again for this year. We have been lucky to not have the horrific weather that has been affecting so much of the country lately, but we have also not had the best gardening-with-small-children weather.
Let’s face it, I am not about to get out and work in the yard in the rain and the cold.
We are amateur gardeners at best. Some of us like to dig in the dirt and feel the mud oozing through our fingers. Some of us like to learn about the plants. Some of us like to eat. We all enjoy the garden.
Our garden is not about growing and saving for the winter -not yet anyway. Our garden is not about reducing our grocery bills, although that would be a nice benefit. Our garden isn’t even about a love of gardening, although if we all learn a bit more of that along the way, it would be a good thing.
We have a garden to simply teach our children about growing and caring for plants, understanding that food comes from hard work, fortunate weather, and the earth – whether that is in our own backyard, the local farm, or a large cooperative of farms farther removed from our daily lives. Food does not come from the store. Let me rephrase, food does not originate at the store.
We have an organic garden so our children can run barefoot in the yard, in the dirt and in the grass. So they can stand in the raspberry bushes and pluck the juicy berries with muddy little fingers and enjoy the sun-ripened goodness right then and there without a thought that they should not.
We have a garden because of then I can hear my 7 year old tell my 5 year old in his knowing voice that the tomatoes that we grow in our garden taste so much better than the ones that we get from the store. It amazes me to hear two boys that ordinarily would not willingly eat tomatoes become excited about the tomato plants that we have growing out back and look forward to the fruit they will bear.
We have a garden to try vegetables that might otherwise be passed over in the store or varieties that are simply not available there. I might not love Brussels sprouts, but we are going to grow them and I’ll eat them! They might not love broccoli, but we are going to grow it and they’ll try it. Planting heirloom varieties you don’t see everywhere is fun and exciting and lends itself to more adventurous eating on all of our parts.
We have a garden to experience it in all the triumphs and failures, in all the deliciousness of the fruits of their labor and the healthfulness of the vegetables we grow despite how we may really feel about them, the patience and work, the learning and careful tending. There are life lessons to be learned here and I hope to let my children find them as they’re growing.
Tell me about your garden! Why do you have one and what do you grow?