Growing Up in the Garden
The year from age two to age three has been a very challenging one for me and my son. Like me, he is headstrong, determined, stubborn, and very sharp. It is a struggle, sometimes, to find ways to keep him entertained. Toys lose their novelty quickly, I prefer not to over-use TV, and with a new baby with us we are not quite as mobile as we once were. However, there is one place where he is always entertained, and that is my garden.
The garden always changes. Every day something new is sprouting, blooming, or ripening. Every month at least one new fruit or vegetable is in season. With each season comes new jobs, from tilling, to planting, to weeding and harvesting. And every year the garden is completely different than the last. I think it is for all these constant changes that the garden never bores. It is always new.
My oldest son has gardened with me his entire life. He can locate and name everything I have growing. He has the fine dexterity to handle tiny seeds. He loves to exercise his muscles digging in the dirt. He spots weeds before I do. He is an expert berry and bean harvester. He is, simply, a gardener.
There is so much good for children in the garden. Exposure to the dirt and bacteria is invaluable for building their microbiome and immune system. The sun and fresh air always lifts a sour mood. We count seeds. We learn about using a delicate touch with tender seedlings and caring for living things. And we discover where our food comes from.
At three years old we are battling picky eating, though there are some things which I am impressed that my son enjoys from the garden. He loooooves pesto of any kind. Although he is hesitant to try new foods at the table, if he picks it in the garden he is more willing to try a bite. He nibbles lettuce, beans, basil, and nasturtium directly from the garden.
It makes both of us so happy to spend time in the garden. Our hands are dirty, our bellies full, and we’ve spent some precious time together. What a wonderful way to spend a childhood.