Why try to explain miracles to your kids when you can just have them plant a garden? Robert Brault
There are so many lessons to learn in a garden! Some easier than others, but all mirror the struggles and thrills we experience in life. I remember the ﬁrst ﬂowers I grew were from seed— marigolds—and they were magniﬁcent. I was so proud of that one little planter on my deck!
A few years later, I had a house with a yard and a toddler. I tried planting with my helper, but he showed no interest until a kindergarten experiment growing a sunﬂower from seed. We started that ﬂower as a seed in a plastic cup with a pencil as a stake so it grew straight. He learned the delight of “I did that!” When it flowered, we picked some seeds for ourselves and left some for the birds—he loved sharing with the birds. That summer we also grew carrots—all he wanted was to pull them up to see how big they had gotten! We ate tiny twisted carrots and he appreciated how they ended up on his plate. I had his attention and he got to see some magic.
- Enjoy work. Kids don’t need prompting to ﬁnd the joy in using a hose or digging in dirt but helping to carry a watering can is hard work, so is ﬁlling up containers with dirt. Show them weeds and the satisfaction of yanking them out of the ground!
- Experience success. Along the path from seed to table are little milestones, such as the cotyledon (the first seed leaves) peeking through the dirt and unfurling its leaves, the seedling growing strong, and producing fruit that we can eat right oﬀ the vine. They did it! That hard work led to success—there’s a beneﬁt to work.
- Experience failure. Sometimes that path gets rocky. As in life, we all experience failures in the garden. Is there a better way to learn resiliency? There’s a lesson in seeing a fat hornworm munching on “my tomato.”
- Appreciate fresh food. Nothing tastes as good as home-grown veggies!
If you give the children in your life a garden to grow, they will beneﬁt in so many ways. Commend them when they share a bounty of fresh greens. Share in their disappointments when things don’t go well. Teach them about life while they learn to be gardeners. Later on, when they’re teenagers helping you in the garden will be a real miracle!
Article by Michelle Assoian, Buncombe County Extension Master GardenerSM Volunteer.
To learn more:
Gardening with children:
Developing a vegetable garden for children:
Mini gardens for children: