Around here spring was all rain and it’s just now starting to feel like summer. All the rain has everything greener than Ireland and I have already broken the mower. Twice.
All of the wet weather has meant that we only recently got our garden planted. We had been planning all winter, the seeds were bought, some plants started, and we were itching to get our hands dirty and get something in the ground.
There are few things that offer the training opportunities for kids that a garden does. A garden takes planning and goal setting. It takes hard work and requires some sweat, and a garden has to be worked on over time. In the end a garden will provide rewards based on the work invested.
Fail to plan when and how to plant the right things at the right time and you won’t get to reap the harvest. The amount that your garden will produce will be directly related to the amount of planting, weeding, and watering that has been invested. Stop halfway through the process and in an amazingly short amount of time a garden will revert back to a field of weeds. Plan well, work hard, and stick with it and you will literally be able to see, touch, and taste the results. Kids that master and understand those lessons will be pretty well prepared for life.
If you haven’t planted anything yet there’s still time! Here are five reasons why you and your family should think about starting a gardening adventure this spring:
1. Being Outside. You need to be outside more. Your family needs to be outside more. A garden is outside and working on a garden means you have to be outside. It’s pretty much unavoidable. Having a garden means you will be outside working on it. That means more fresh air for you and your family. That’s a good thing.
2. Hard Work. Having a garden means work. It requires sweat and occasionally some blood. You should expect some blisters. The kids won’t get them, but you will probably have some sore muscles. What’s great about all of this work is that all it will yield results that are real and apparent and visible. The garden will go from a patch of dirt and after some blisters on your hands the soil will be turned and planted. The weeds will be coming up and crowding out the good plants and then after some sweat and work the weeds will be gone and your plants will be safe again. The harvest will be in the garden still on the plants and then after some aching muscles it will be in your kitchen and on your table.
3. Connecting to the World. Admit it. You and your family are probably too isolated from the real world. You spend too much time in the air conditioning and not enough time outside sweating. You worry too much about filtered air and mold and don’t get enough dirt on you. When was the last time you even noticed the weather unless it was extreme? A garden will connect you and your family to the world again. You will feel the sun and the wind and the rain. You and your kids will get muddy and dusty and dirty. With plants in the ground the weather will have meaning again. You will pay attention to early spring frosts, anxiously watch the skies for rain, and rejoice in a soaking shower. You will notice things about your land that you didn’t notice before. How that corner is shaded more than you thought, how that side holds too much water and needs to drain better, and how the soil in that area has too much clay and rocks. You will be connected to the world again.
4. Teamwork. You can do a garden all by yourself, but where’s the adventure in that? A garden should be a whole family project. Everyone has a job and everyone can play a role. The littlest ones can water and help harvest, the oldest children can manage a whole section by themselves, and almost everyone can participate in battling weeds. Make sure everyone has a chance to take part in the planning phase and has a say on what is planted. Watch carefully and see who is gifted in what areas. Who cares about the details and how things look and wants to plant all the flowers? Who focuses on the very practical and wants to try that mulching strategy to combat weeds? Who is really interested in trying new recipes with what you have harvested? Who is really interested in why things grow and how it all works?
5. Rewards. We all work for rewards. At the end of the day you will get out of a garden what you have invested in skill, time, and hard work. The more skill you build, the more time you invest, and the harder you work the better the harvest will be. Eating sweet strawberries off the vine, looking at rows of canned beans that you put up yourselves, eating a salad that is made entirely of ingredients that you grew in your yard, picking ripe red tomatoes, all of these things come with an almost indescribable sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.
Convinced yet? You need to get outside. You and your family needs to sweat and work, and raise a few blisters. All of you need to get dirty and messy and muddy. You have a team to build, a job to do, and harvest that needs to be prepared. You need to plant a garden this year.