What do you think of when you hear the word ‘gardening’?
For most people, the word brings to mind an image of a crinkly-faced woman in an over-sized hat, talking loudly to her plants about her day.
Before having my daughter, I felt this way too; gardening seemed totally irrelevant to my life. However, after having my daughter, I started recalling memories of my childhood garden.
We had a large plot of land growing up, where my parents allowed us to plant anything our hearts desired. My sister and I planted a robust garden, complete with tomatoes, zucchini, corn and even watermelon. We spent so many hours out there– our hands deeply entrenched in the soil– tending to our plants and harvesting the literal fruits of our labor.
The more I thought on these memories, the more a desire to plant something with my daughter sprouted in my heart.
We started small– planting two tomato plants in a large pot. It felt good to get our hands dirty and take time to tend to our tomatoes— even though our “crop” last year was quite light. Eventually we killed the tomato plant (which didn’t surprise me). However, I’m still so glad we did it! Since then, we’ve planted many other plants, most of which are still alive (believe it or not). We have also planted a couple of herb gardens and will plant another this fall.
Whether or not you enjoy gardening, I encourage you to consider plant something– regardless of your space or skill-level. My daughter and I have had so many shared memories and opportunities to learn along the way in our little “garden” and you can too!
Here are 5 Lessons You Can Teach Your Kid(s) When You Plant Something:
1.You can teach your kid(s) to care for something outside of themselves.
Like us, our kids are born with a selfishness inside of them. (They are just not as good at hiding it as we are!) Tending to a plant gives them a focus outside of themselves and shows them how to be good caretakers.
2.You can teach your kid(s) to watch and wait patiently for tangible results.
As far as actual fruit, our results haven’t been abundant so far. However, my daughter and I have been able to watch our plants grow and mature. Together, we go outside almost daily to look at each plant, pull out weeds and talk about the progress each one has made.
3.You can teach your kid(s) the art of gentleness.
Gentleness is not something babies, toddlers or kids understand innately. Plants are a perfect subject on which to practice this skill. So far in our time in the garden, I’ve taught my daughter the art of not stepping on things, explained to her why we don’t yank on branches and showed her how to put water in a pot without drowning it. (All of these skills are a work in progress, to be sure.)
4. You can build the habit of going outside more.
If you’re able to plant outside, it provides motivation to turn off the tv and go outside daily, regardless of the weather.
If you can’t plant outside for whatever reason, bring the outdoors in with a basil plant or a potted plant. (At least your child will get to practice watering!)
5.You can learn to appreciate new scents together.
My daughter is at the age where she likes to smell everything– my coffee in the morning, her cheese sticks and even my carton of half and half for my coffee in the morning (go figure). Planting herbs and tomatoes has provided a rich harvest of scents to experience together.
Still aren’t sure? Consider planting something small. Get a little pot and plant one thing– maybe a berry or a basil plant. Do a quick google search for what grows well in your area at this time of year and what conditions it needs to thrive.
For instance, does it like light or shade?
Does it need a lot of water or a little?
Even if you kill it, you and your kid(s) will enjoy the journey.