When my husband and I bought our first house together several years ago, one of my criteria was having some sort of gardening space, whether it was a sunny patio or in the yard. Fortunately we lucked out with both options at our house, and I’ve been making use of both ever since. I bounce back and forth between doing a patio garden and an actual garden in the yard. While my thumb isn’t exactly green, I look forward to summer and putting my own fresh vegetables and herbs on our table.
When we started having children, my reasons for gardening changed. It wasn’t just to have more control over the fresh produce we ate or the convenience of walking outside for fresh herbs. I wanted to show my children where food comes from so they would feel more connected to the food we eat, especially fruits and vegetables. Also, it is well-documented that when a child has a hand in preparing his own food, he is more likely to eat it. The same could be said in helping grow the food.
As my son gets older, we find more ways for him to be involved every year. He is 4 now and loves helping. He even has his own trowel, cultivator and gloves. Of course all children love playing in the dirt, so just helping prep the soil for planting is big fun. My son loves to remind me that we need to water the plants. He takes charge of the watering can and has learned how to water the plants without drowning them. Weeding is a more delicate procedure to ensure that the root is removed along with the leaves, though he is getting better at it with age. Most fun of all is the time to harvest. He always spots the hiding cucumber under the foliage. His excitement at picking fresh fruits and vegetables from the garden is such a thrill for me as well.
Even if you don’t have the space for a full garden, it is amazing what you can grow in containers on a small balcony or patio. There are also a number of herbs you can grow in a window inside if you do not have outdoor space. It is hard to describe the amount of pride my son feels in planting a seed or a plant and watching it grow, then harvesting his hard work.
This year, I’m giving him his own container where he can plant whatever he wants. We are going this weekend to the store so he can pick out his plants and then he will be responsible for planting and growing them.