Wednesday, April 1, 2009
How Does Your Garden Grow?
Spring is well underway in Texas and our family has spent the last several weekends up to our knees and elbows in dirt. Gardening is such a beautiful way to introduce your children to the wonder and beauty of nature.
One of my earliest memories is from kindergarten. I can remember what my classroom looked like only because it was the back drop to my little styrofoam cup with a seed in it. We watered our seeds every day and watched in wonder as they sprouted and pushed their way through the loose soil to show us their green heads. We compared them everyday to see whose was growing the most. We tended them with care, learning responsibility for taking care of something that was depending on us for its life.
I am the first to confess that I know very little about gardening. Where we live, we don't even have soil, we have clay. If I ever decide to take up pottery, I will have to look no further than my back door for the raw materials, but our ground is no friend to gardening. So I have been reading books and attended a lecture by our local garden club.
Generally, I am a believer in "it's the process, not the product", but it helps to have the right organic material (compost) to make something grow. But if you've got good soil, water and sun, you should be set. Some books to get started: Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew and (especially for Texans) anything by Howard Garrett. See if you have a local gardening club. There are usually experienced gardeners in the area who are thrilled to give a gardening novice some pointers. Check you library for books and programs.
There are tons and tons of books on gardening with kids. Check some out from your library to get ideas. One of my favorites is Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots.
Consider what is feasiable. At our old home, we did not have a big yard, but I dedicated a 5x5 block of space and we constructed an inexpensive raised bed to grow herbs and tomatoes. Even if you are in an apartment with no yard, there are many herbs and plants that you can grow indoors. A friend mentioned that Costco had tomato plants in containers last week (they may not be available in the northeast yet). Perfect for a porch or patio. And if space and budget are absolutely prohibitive, a stryofoam cups and a 50 cent pack of seeds are still enough to captivate. Wonder with your child. Drop whatever you are doing when you hear the first shouts of, "Mommy, Look! Something's growing!" and share the moment with your child. Let your child tell you what he sees.
I have much more to say about this subject, but it will have to wait for another time. I could to a whole post on gardening/planting books for kids. So many great ones! How Groundhog's Garden Grew is a good one to illustrate the gardening process. And, of course, anything by Beatrix Potter.