A Not-So Secret Garden

My grandfather loved to garden. From a young age I remember watching him dig up the dirt and tend to the plants. He watered everyday with such a peaceful motion, back and forth. The lines of his mower were straight in the lawn and it was always so green. I can almost smell it.

I have a semi-green thumb. I can get things to grow, but I have weeds, I have bugs eating things, and I have bunnies. Maybe if I was older I would have heard more about his gardening problems or paid more attention, but his garden experience seems perfect in my mind. I want that peaceful experience for my kids, but, let’s be real, that ain’t gonna happen! My boys are more scientific when they garden. You know, discovering what dirt tastes like, trapping worms and watching them make tunnels, taking a red bulb and planting it with a blue bulb just to see what happens. They take their wardrobe seriously and are always prepared for a sudden change in weather.


And, what child isn’t concerned about getting dirt on their hands? Mine insisted on gloves (not your typical gardening gloves) before he begin planting.


I give them full control of what they want to plant. In some way, I have persuaded myself to believe this will help them eat more vegetables. Whether in my head or not, it gets them excited. They selected carrots, lettuce, blueberries, and a watermelon for our planters this year. In the larger garden, we have tomatoes (my choice), cucumbers, yellow peppers, sweet corn, beets, and cantalope. We would like to squeeze in cauliflower – they insist there is room, but I’m skeptical.

We learn together. Thank goodness for Google and gardening boards with experts to help as we struggle to keep things alive and growing – fingers crossed, even producing fruit and vegetables! Everyday Graham waters the planters and Rowan helps me water the garden. When it rains, we celebrate our day off from chores.

Graham picks a carrot every so often to see how they are doing. We may only have one left to taste, but he is learning and having fun. Secretly, I hope this fascination fades because at this rate we will not have any left to eat!!

When you have scientists in the garden, why not bring the science indoors and see what we can grow from things we already have? Have you ever tried growing a pineapple by cutting off its top? Have you ever collected tomato seeds to grow, or chopped the end off of romaine lettuce and started a new one? In order to know if it works you have to try it and this year, we did!!


During my three year olds first knife lesson, he cut the end of the lettuce off for our experiment. We then placed the bottom into a solo cup with 1/2 cup of water.


Then you sit back and wait. Fill the water if it gets low and jot down your findings everyday. From the first day, we noticed changes.


The center of the lettuce began to grow. It may be difficult to see in the picture above, but check out how big they were after a week!!


I probably should have looked up the proper method to do this. I didn’t. I went with my gut and let my kids make the choices. After a week, we made the decision to plant them in one of our garden planters. My oldest was amazed that they would grow without dirt and, I am not gonna lie, I was to! Dirt, sun, and water. The three ingredients needed for a plant to grow and, yet, here we were growing lettuce with only water. Magic?!

It may not be magic, but I think it the reason why my grandfather’s garden was perfect and simple. It felt a little magical. As a child, we live in the moment. We see the lettuce is growing when we take a minute to look, but when we look away, we are already living and experiencing the next thing that catches our eye. As an adult, we cultivate our crops. We are aware of their need and put in the time. When you pull a carrot or even a weed, you have an idea of why. Kids do not need the why.

We may have a colorful garden. We may pull everything to feed our curiosity before the fruits and vegetables are ready to be pulled. I will continue to mow straight lines knowing my grandfather is watchin from above and my kids will continue to be scientists and explore all that nature has to offer in their not-so-secret garden.



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