When spring is in the air, I know it's just about that time. Time to get outside, dig in the dirt, and plant a garden. I love gardening, but I admit it's difficult to take the time needed to keep it up, especially with little ones that are often more hinderance than help. (No! Don't eat the dirt! That's basil, not a weed! Walk around the plants, not on them!) But I continue to try. Most years my crops are pretty meager, but there's just something about it that I love.
At dinner one night this week, my oldest daughter informed me that we wouldn't have to buy so many vegetable at the store this year. At first I didn't understand where that comment came from, but we had just made our seed-buying trip and started preparing some beds. I was amazed at the connection she made. We weren't just playing in the dirt, we were working to produce our own food!
There are so many lessons to be learned in the garden. Even the basic art of gardening is a dying one, yet it is such a valuable skill to have! My children are learning stewardship and know what goes in the compost bucket and what goes in the trash. They are learning to economize by providing their own food. For math, there's measuring the beds and the distance between rows and plants. For science there's the life cycle of plants, pollination, and nutrition. What better way to feel like a pioneer than to grow your own vegetable just like Ma Ingalls?! And there is a wealth of garden-themed literature out there. These are some of my very favorites:
Weslandia by Paul Fleischman
The Gardener by Sarah Stewart
Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert
It doesn't have to be complicated and just a few simple pots can be your garden. Gardening provides not only food for my family, but so many valuable lessons and skills. And I'm think my children (at least most of them) might be more help than hinderance this year!