Can Gardening Fulfill a Neglected Need in Us?

Orange flower

After a long school year, the prospect of spending some time in the garden with my children sounds so refreshing. My seed catalogs have been well studied and I have a plan for my garden boxes. Each child has their own garden box and plan, seeds have been gathered, and the sun is getting warmer. Garden time must be getting close.

Great grandparents house in Louise TX
(Great Grandparent’s house in Louise, TX)

Gardening is a tradition in my family, passed down from my grandparent’s garden of necessity to my parents gardening as a pass-time. Our family’s garden is for pleasure. My pleasure comes from feeling my hands in the dirt and the warm sun on my back. The children’s pleasure comes from watching the miracle of seeds sprouting and growing to maturity. Or maybe their pleasure comes from eating the delicious produce: tomatoes, green beans, zucchini, strawberries, bell peppers. There is something that connects us to the earth and its ability to sustain us through the miracle of seeds and plant growth.
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I feel close to God in the garden. No wonder at this feeling, it was part of man’s first assignment form the Creator: To cultivate the earth and take care of it. [Genesis 2:15] We were created to live in and work in a garden. The garden can be a great place to sit and meditate on spiritual matters with sunflowers towering over our head or with the various flower fragrances drifting on the air as the sun starts to warm the day.

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In addition to fulfilling a fundamental need in us and giving the satisfaction of growing healthy foods for our family, a garden can also provide opportunities to promote good habits. Children learn patience as they wait for their seeds to grow. It takes a great sense of responsibility to remember to carefully water the seeds and seedlings each day. Developing gentleness can be encouraged when learning to weed and thin seedlings. A sense of beauty is developed while watching garden flowers bloom and then as a handful are gathered to adorn the family dinner table.

nature journal sunflower B

As your garden gets started with all its greenness and blooming colors, why not pull out your sketching tools and find a comfortable spot to record its progress? Sit in the cool of the morning and take in the wonder of your garden. Draw in your nature journal the garden flowers and vegetables that you cultivate each year and you will have wonderful record of each year’s garden plan. Look for insects or bird visitors to include as an entry in your journal.

square foot garden

It is easy to get started
1. Find a spot in your yard where you can plant a 4′ by 4′ garden. I learned about this method of gardening from the book Square Foot Gardening. This method lets you have a manageable size garden that is just right for children as well as adults. The preferred method is to build a raised 4′ by 4′ box, but just marking out the garden with stakes in the soil works to get you started.
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2. Decide which plants you would like to grow. You have two options to get you started. You can go to your local nursery and buy seedlings to plant in your garden or you can buy seeds to plant directly into your garden. We do a mixture of both. We buy tomato seedlings so we are harvesting tomatoes earlier in the season. We prefer to plant sunflower, pole beans, and pumpkins from seeds because they are very fast growing and fun to watch.

3. Get those seedlings and seeds into the ground. Make a plan to water and weed as time goes on.
Tomatoes
If you are ready for something a little more special, you can check out these specialty gardens.

Grow pole beans that will grow up a trellis to make a secret hide-away for your children later this summer.

Grow a pizza garden that will give you many of the spices and ingredients for making a great pizza.

Grow a fragrance garden
that includes things like lavender, rosemary, and thyme.

Gardening isn’t just a quaint notion. It is a forgotten satisfaction where we can introduce our children to the wonders of all varieties of life. As the family becomes acquainted with their garden, they are learning the inter-relationship of living things on the earth.

Barb-Harmony Art Mom

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