It’s that time of year. The plants are in the nursery, the seedlings are sprouting, the leaves are unfurling, and for a few brief months, I’ll be able to keep my garden clean and organized. Then, of course, it’ll burst from its borders and become the jungle site of my kids’ safaris.
I’ve gardened for over a decade when my three tomato plants and herbs boggled my ex’s mind and made my friends look at me with consternation. It wasn’t cool to garden when you were under fifty and spent your Saturday nights at lounges and parties.
Of course, no one complained when they received fresh tomatoes and could clip their kitchen herbs from my little containers.
Still, having kids was what really set my green thumb into motion. I wanted them to snack on sweet pea pods and pluck berries from vines. I wanted them to pick tomatoes and bite into the sweet flesh standing amidst climbing vines and flowering plants.
And they do.
They also help me plan, plant, and care for our garden. At three, Elizabeth knows how to “tuck” seedlings into their beds, patting their earthen blankets over them. At six, Joseph can tell the difference between oregano and basil when I send him outside with scissors and a bowl. They both get excited when it’s time to plant and they both get even more excited when it’s time to harvest. For the three of us, it’s an amazingly fun time rather than work.
I have friends who want to start gardening with their children and ask me for advice. My first tip would be to have fun with it. Sure, neat rows and trellised beans look orderly, but nothing is so adventurous as finding carrots and radishes popping up in unexpected places. Kids are naturals in the garden. Sometimes, it’s best to just follow their leads.
Do you garden with your children?