There are two types of gardeners. There are flower gardners, and there are vegetable gardeners. I am a flower gardener. At one time, I would have hoped that my grandchildren would one day remember me when they see a beautiful blue hydrangea. However, I’ve changed my mind. I would rather give them each the gift of gardening.
My love for gardening started out as a shaky affair.
Perhaps that’s the reason for my distaste for vegetable gardening. Let me explain.
When I was a young mother of two small children, my mother informed me that we needed a garden. She grew up in the Great Depression with five siblings. Growing their own food was a way of life. It was prudent and hard work.
So, I thought that sounded like a great model to follow. And I became determined to put out a garden, like my grandmother before me.
Late one spring, I bought a basket full of seeds. Then, I rented a tiller. We spent a backbreaking day tilling up the soil. Children following behind. They walked the rows and planted the seeds.
We looked back at our freshly turned up sod, and felt the warm pleasure of hard work. The children and I talked about how wonderful it will be to have fresh tomatoes to eat and real pumpkins to decorate.
Soon after the rain came. Again, we smiled at the weather, knowing that it was doing its part to create a beautiful lush bounty of fresh produce for our family table.
Hot summer days follow the sun and rain cycles of late spring. And so does the weeds.
Our rows of seeds never grew. Much to our surprise, the only thing that came out of that ground was every type of weed known to man in the northern continent.
What I didn’t know about gardening could have filled a book.
- You don’t walk on freshly tilled ground. It packs it hard, and seeds can’t survive.
- Don’t plant all seeds at the same time. There are different times in the growing season for every type of seed.
- Plant each seed at a depth designed for it. You have to know how deep to plant each kind of seed.
- Weeds grow faster than vegetables.
Because my mother grew up with a grandmother who knew these things, my mother mistakingly thought they were just common knowledge.
She was right, and wrong at the same time.
When gardening with my grandchildren, each one takes on a different role. The boys like the heavy work of digging holes. The girls love to take care of the fragile flowers and carefully tend to the roots while planting. They both love to learn the fancy latin names as well as their common names. And they take pride in watching the flowers break through the warm soil after a long winter’s nap.
The skill of gardening must be passed from generation to generation. When it is, and done well, the next generation knows and understands it almost instinctively.