April is a time for dreams for a gardener….what is new in the garden today? what shall I plant? when can I go outside and dig in the dirt?! My boys loved to be outside digging in the dirt. As soon as the weather warmed up enough to plant we went outside to “put in our garden”. Of course, it was nothing like Great Grandpa’s garden at the farm in Ohio but it was ours. We always had corn (which was never knee high by the Fourth of July and we seldom got to eat it because the raccoons got there first!), carrots, zucchini, tomatoes, blueberries, pumpkins (that never got very big), strawberries, raspberries, cherries and, when they got older, peppers and cilantro for salsa.
Ours was an “eating garden” not the “canning gardens” they ran through when visiting the relatives in Ohio. It was there for them to experience the joy of growing something, to see where some of our food comes from and to be able to taste the goodness of their harvest (if we could keep the raccoons and birds from experiencing it first!) We would take pictures of their two corn stalks and send them to Great Grandpa – I am not sure who was prouder of their corn. When they got to high school they both took horticulture. The teacher came up to me one day and asked if Joel and Nick had gardened when they were younger. I said they had and she replied, “I knew it. They have such a respect for living things.” It is so important to let little ones nurture things from nature. They develop an empathy and a respect for living things when they garden as well as a knowledge of where food comes from, experiencing the science of growing seeds, patience while waiting for their plants to produce something to eat or look at, and pride in what they have accomplished. This love for nature will stay with them. Joel and Danielle have been working on the garden at their home Wedgwood. Nick does not have garden space but he likes to read books on gardening and loves planning a menu to eat all the things that Joel is growing!
My Grandfather would be so proud of his little gardener. I am glad we had, and are still having, fun digging in the dirt together. Children love to see the plants and see where food comes from before it gets to the grocery store. Take them to a blueberry or strawberry farm and let them pick some fruit. Then let them help prepare the food for a family meal. You know where food comes from but to them this is a new and exciting adventure. Take some time to get dirty with your child – or just visit the pea patch and see what other people are doing in the dirt.
Some of the children have already had the opportunity to plant seeds in the garden at preschool. We will all be planting soon. We will encourage the science of gardening while we set up experiments outside and have fun digging in the dirt at preschool. Be sure to check out the garden area when you are at school --The raspberry plants are leafing out, the hummingbird is visiting on a daily basis and the slugs are enjoying our primroses. There is a lot going on in the preschool garden. And more to come! Our Wildlife Habitat Garden has attracted the birds this winter and soon the butterflies will return. The garden is a place that allows the children to experience nature and encourages habitats for the animals in the area. When we encourage children to be a part of nature they develop a caring attitude toward nature that develops their ability to nurture – plants, animals and people.