Becoming an outstanding gardener is a life-long pursuit that will bring you joy and frustrations all along the way!
Can you remember the first time you actually tried to grow something from a seed? I’m sure that it’s an activity that every school aged child has done in their science class. Maybe it was a project to plant a seed for Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. With the ultimate goal being a plant that was blooming or almost ready to bloom when the child brought that plant home.
I’m pretty sure that your first attempts looked something like this little guy over here. The teachers would always pick a seed that was easy to germinate and almost fool proof. Some of those teachers weren’t great gardeners, but they knew they had to have some success to encourage their students. For most students, when they were finally able to bring their seedlings home, Mom’s watchful eye would keep them growing.
Occasionally, those seedlings would be placed in the hands of a student who was really intrigued, fascinated and blown away by the transformation of that seed into something spectacular. If you are guessing that I was one of those kinds of kids, you’d be so right. My father, recognizing that I enjoyed the planting and caring for these potted plants, took it one step further. Every year we would plant a garden in our backyard. There were onions, cabbage, tomatoes, cucumbers, beans and several other vegetable plants growing. Because I enjoyed the garden, my parents would make sure that my chores revolved around the weeding, watering and caring for that little vegetable patch.
My Own Garden
Today, I have my own garden that is flourishing with flowers and vegetables of all kinds. I love the outdoors and would spend hours upon hours mucking around in the gardens. When gardening in the ground was done, I started gardening in the water. My other half, built me a pond in the yard so that I could spread my roots into a new type of planting and enjoyment. My pond isn’t terribly large (3,000 gallons), but it is home to my Koi and my water lilies. My gardening hobby was growing in all kinds of new directions.
Three Seasons of Outdoors and One Season Indoors
Now we live in the north, so active gardening is a 3 season deal. Spring, summer and fall are all busy times in the great outdoors, but once November, December and January roll around, the outdoor activity stops and the indoor activity continues. With the right lighting we can grow herbs in the winter for use in our day to day cooking. My orchids and other indoor plants keep me busy too. Daydreaming is another hobby that takes center stage in the winter months too. Daydreaming about the perfect garden for next year! My passive gardening pursuits are completed by pouring over all the seed catalogues that have been delivered with the mail. Oh I know I could get these on-line, but there is something soothing about flipping the pages filled with seeds for all kinds of tomatoes, peppers, carrots and other goodies that will be planted next year.
Children/Grandchildren in the Garden
I love to find some fun things for my grandchildren too. When they visit, I like to give them a tour of the garden and point out all kinds of things to them. They love the pond because it is a mecca for all kinds of critters. Toads, frogs, dragonflies, and of course fish! They enjoy seeing with their own eyes how much fun you can have in the yard without any electronics required. So we make sure there are fun things for them to use, like their own colorful gardening tools. They learn at my side, what is a weed and what isn’t. I have also taught them how to transplant things that are growing in the wrong place! They have learned how to do that properly so that they will not kill the new transplants.
At this time of year, finding things for children to do is sometimes a chore, but get them their first gardening set and they will be busy for a while. These seed kits are fun for boys and girls. You can teach them about the plants that will sprout up and show them some of the benefits of herbs too. Herbs are a great way to start that budding gardener off. (Pardon the pun!)
Once they have some success with seeds, you can always move on to more challenging plants. Starting small and starting with seeds that are almost guaranteed to grow, will give them a sense of accomplishment. As they become more interested in planting and tending their seeds, you can and should encourage them to participate more in gardening pursuits.
Books are a great way to help them understand the life cycles of plants, bugs, and more. There are a myriad of books available for young gardeners and magazines and crafts that you can do with them as well.
Learning about plants, ecology, botany, and a host of other things that make a garden successful will make children think and learn. When they are having fun doing projects and experiments, they will be encouraged to try new things. Who knows, you just might enkindle in them a love for the earth and all things growing. I know that’s where my love of the garden started and I’m thankful that my parents provided a great atmosphere for getting dirty. They didn’t have a heart attack when I came in from the garden covered in dirt. I think they secretly enjoyed seeing that I was really “into” it!
Future Hopes for Young Gardeners
Young gardeners are our hope for the future. Helping them to understand the impact that we can have on our surroundings will hopefully make them adults that have a first hand knowledge of what should and what should not be done in our environment. There will never be too many people involved in making our world a nicer and much more productive place. The children that learn from an early age to have a genuine stewardship of the earth, will become the leaders that could pave the way to better earth management for us all.
Pictures courtesy of Pixabay.com