When I was growing up, my parents had a huge vegetable garden. My father would get out the rototiller as soon as the last threat of frost passed (in western New York that could be well into May) and till the ground until it was nice and brown. Then my brothers and I would be given packets of seeds to plant in tiny rows. Our job was to weed the garden every day and water it every night. By mid summer we would be feasting on fresh veggies from our garden. You would think that since I grew up with such a garden I would be passionate about gardening – but I wasn’t!
As a child, I didn’t understand how much the garden helped to stretch my parents’ food budget, and the reason we had such a large garden was to grow enough food for the summer and for my mom (and us kids) to can for the coming winter. Instead, I was focused on all the time I had to work instead of playing with my friends.
Now that we have children, and a budget I have a new appreciation for how my parents planned and worked to make our garden stretch our food budget! While we do not have the room for the size garden I grew up with, we do our best to plant vegetables that we can use. I’ve learned that you don’t have to have a HUGE garden to teach your children about the importance of how things grow.
While the girls and I get our garden ready, we talk about the dirt, the seeds, the rain and the sun, and how if we are missing just one of those items our garden will not grow. Just like our bodies need food and water to grow, our souls need to be fed with Bible stories and Jesus’ love for our faith to grow!
My husband is a wonderful gardener and he enjoys teaching the girls all about plants and flowers and how tiny seeds can grow into large plants that can feed us all summer! One of his favorite lessons (and the girls LOVE this one!) is to get a small seed, a paper cup and some dirt. The cup represents our bodies, the seed represents our faith, the dirt represents the Bible and daily water is Jesus. This is a great hands on lesson that children can really understand, especially because they will SEE that plant start to grow!
If you are looking to start gardening with your children, you can do with just a small box of herbs, or you can go as large as you want – the important thing is to talk to your children and enlist their help.
It doesn’t take many supplies to get started:
* Potting Soil
* Seed Trays
We take the girls to our local store (Home Depot, Lowes, Wal Mart, the Dollar Store) and let them pick out 3 vegetable seed packs and 3 flower seed packs. We talk about their choices and make sure that we are in the correct growing zone for each packet. (if you aren’t familiar with growing zones, you can click here).
When we get home we pull out the seed trays and let the girls fill each one with potting soil. They are each responsible for planting their own seeds, and then watering them every other day. My girls have been doing this since they were 4 and 6, and they love it! Once the green leaves start to appear they rejoice over each new bud and before we know it, it’s time to plant outside!
Pick an area of your lawn that has both sun/shade and has good drainage. For us, we fence it off so the dogs can’t trample the plants! Turn the ground over with a shovel and remove any grass/weeds. Take the plants carefully out of the seed trays and plant them in the ground. You can just plant seeds in the ground, but it’s more manageable for kids to start with the seed trays. Mark your rows and water them! Before you know it you’ll be harvesting fresh veggies!
Believe me, it’s more time consuming and messy and crazy to have your kids help you with gardening. They whine about pulling weeds, and they will undoubtedly pull up at least 1 plant along with the weeds – but it’s worth it!
As you garden together, you can talk about the cycle of life, about how weeds can choke the good plants, but by removing them the plants can grow strong. You can talk about the miracle of life. You can talk about how God made the seeds that you are planting.
In simple humility, let our gardener God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation garden of your life. James 1: ~21
Aurie Good is a pastor’s wife, a homeschool mom to their 2 beautiful miracle babies, and a foster momma to the precious children placed in their home. Currently they are loving on a 16 month old baby boy who they are hoping to adopt from the foster care system. She is an advocate for foster care and enjoys sharing the miraculous journey that led them to become foster parents. When she isn’t knee deep in laundry and diapers she enjoys crafting, knitting and making a huge mess with glitter. You can connect with her on twitter and follow along with their crazy adventures on Instagram. She blogs at Our Good Life about foster care, adoption, DIY crafts and enjoying the messy of motherhood.