Wednesday, March 17, 2010


First Lessons in the Garden~

There's something so exciting about the expression of wonder on a childs face when they see " life " for the first time reaching out of the earth.

When our children were small and still full of wonder, I wanted to teach them all about the
joys of  connecting with nature.

  I couldn't wait to share my passion for gardening with them! I had been bitten by the gardening bug years before they were born after moving into our first home as a young married couple. Our " yard " consisted of a very large, bare patch of ground that sloped upwards. It was there that we learned "our first lessons in the garden" in the high desert of Nevada. It was both challenging and exciting to start with a totally blank canvas. We attended some classes and drew out a fancy plan for our slope! ( we didn't stick to it of course) Over time, we mastered digging in clay and granite soil, figuring out what plants were drought tolerant and those that required a little more water and attention. We also allowed a few "native volunteers" to stay and add their charms to our hillside garden. We were right with the trend of zeriscape gardening which was an exciting time to be learning about gardening in our area.
By the time our children came along ( 4 years later ) we had accomplished quite a lot in our garden and survived the disappointment of some hard lessons too. We had learned how not to burn and kill new plants with fertalizer, how to install a drip system and the value of hiring quality stone workers  next time we had a retaining wall built! (a story for another day ) .We were finally getting to the maintinence phase of things when our first child was born.

I had a raised bed on the east side of the house which was my cutting garden. It was filled with more delicate plants that were shaded and protected from the afternoon western sun.

I remember bringing our son outdoors in his bouncy chair and placing him in the shade on the gravel walkway many times while I snuck in a few cherished minutes of gardening!

You can imagine my excitment when the time came for planting with our children!

 One very simple, fun and rewarding way to do this is to plant some indoor seeds and watch em grow!  Off we went to our local outdoor center and picked out some trays, potting soil and seeds. 

Black-eyed Susan

Hollyhocks are an old fashioned favorite of mine and they come back every year!

The happy gardners with their "crops" on transplanting day!

We planted our seeds indoors in Mid- March so they would be ready to go outside in May after any danger of frost had passed.
I borrowed this little spread sheet idea for displaying seeds from a fellow teacher friend. I made a list of all the seeds we planted and then the sprouts glued them down next to the correct name.

Sorry about the yucky gray splotch! It's dried glue and even photo shop wouldn't erase it! Pretend it's a rain cloud about to sprinkle down on our newly planted seeds!

 Sunflowers are fun to grow whether you're young or young at heart!  Grow them kid height or grow them tall...

 We went to the library to find  books on the science of plants. We found some wonderful picture books on the subject.

  At the ages of 3 and 5 they easily understood the process of...


 warm sun + nourishing soil + plus water
= pretty flowers

and HEALTHYveggies!

  We transplanted the seedlings into Grandmas garden near her sunporch windows. The Hollyhocks and Blackeyed Susans come back every year to remind us of our " first lessons in the garden "  nine years ago. Grandma never fails to call each summer to tell us how lovely her flowers are!

Planting your own seeds is a FUN and frugal way to add to your garden every year and it's a great way to grow together with your children.

We still plant new things together every year. Last spring we planted our first veggie garden. Our goal was to plant a thriving salad garden. We were careful to be as organic as possible. We used our own home made " cock- a -doodle- doo " courtesy of our girls  for fertility. The garden did fairly well, despite a lot of rain. We had loads of golden cherry tomatoes, summer and zuccini squash, peas, lettece, and cabbage.  

                                        We will do it again this spring! 

                                            How about you?

Nature Study "We are all meant to be naturalists, each in his own degree, and it is inexcusable to live in a world so full of the marvels of plant and animal life and to care for none of these things."
Charlotte Mason~  

 This is my all time favorite book for activities to do in the garden with children.

The illustrations alone are so charming that even if you never did one of the activities, the book is worth having just for pure reading sake.

You might like to try.... the Sunflower House, The Pizza Patch or The Moon Garden with your young children.

 What do you grow together?  


Victoria said...

Great post and such wonderful pictures! My husband and I are rounding our first year in our new home and I have only just begun to tackle the blank canvas that is our yard. I am lucky enough to have been gardening since I was a little one and have been surrounded by wonderful learned gardeners as well! This year I am doing 3 raised bed veggie gardens and 1 raised bed herb garden. Its a start right? :)

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Hi Deborah Jean,

Imagine how happy I felt reading your words about my book Roots Shoots Buckets & Boots!! You are doing a wonderful, wonderful job(no job really) with your family. I wish every child could be so fortunate.

Please check your local library for my new book Toad Cottages & Shooting Stars. Although they've termed it a book for grannies it is being used by homeschoolers, teachers, aunties, and even some uncles have written to tell me of their experiences doing the projects.

I think you'd love the indoor "Garbage Garden", which I call "Learning from Leftovers."

Continued joys,

Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island (visit my blog for some fun projects, scroll back to January to see Garbage Gardens on the windowsill!)

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Good morning again Deborah Jean. I just came inside from working in my garden and I am a mess. Hope I don't wreck my computer. Actually, I just pulled a long agrimony seed from between a and z keys.

The story is wonderful. What you have to do is FOCUS on one aspect of it. You need to join the Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. Go to some workshops and learn to hone your craft (which you'll do well).

Page back to sometime in late January or early February to my blog posting "So You Want to Be a Writer." It has solid information and hot links to the organizations you need to join.

All joys to you from a grubby gardener,

Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

Debbie said...

Thank you for your kind words about my story! And the homework assignments too! Now I can move forward!

It's my turn to go get grubby!

Enjoy this lovely day!


Amy said...

Found you blog link at Farmgirls Connection. I am now following your blog.

Have a wonderful afternoon.

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