Don't Just Plant a Garden -- Make a Memory

Your kids are watching where you spend your time, whether it looks that way or not. Between play dates and after school activities, teach them about working with their hands in the open air by showing them how to garden. Show them that food doesn't just magically appear in the grocery store.

In twenty years, what are they more likely to remember, an afternoon in front of a video screen -- or a day in the garden with you, complete with some sun tea and an overflowing basket of herbs and vegetables ready for Sunday dinner?

Start them in the garden young (kind of like seedlings), and show them that seeds are manufacturing plants so futuristically small and perfect in their design, that nothing made by the hand of man comes close to matching them. The world is spinning really fast, so while your kids are small and you still have the time, show them that life is good, even if you don't own the latest and greatest. As long as you have a plot of land and a few seeds, you can feed yourself, amuse yourself, exercise your body and engage your mind.

Food costs are soaring, and planting an herb and vegetable garden this spring can save you money. Potatoes, tomatoes, squash, peppers, cucumbers, spinach, lettuce, strawberries, corn, basil, sage, dill, cilantro and thyme will transform a sunny spot in your landscape into a victory garden worthy of the name.

It will do something else, too. Gardening is therapeutic. While you're doing the heavy work, like preparing your soil for the first time, it may not seem worth the extra effort, but after a couple of weekends of labor, you'll be ready for the fun stuff -- planting your garden and watching it grow. Life looks different from the garden, and after you've seen the view, you'll want to hang on to that perspective. Every day changes the world a little. The garden is a spectacular place to add luster to your kids' lives by introducing them to the notion that the changing seasons are about more than a change of wardrobe:
  • Gardening will lower your blood pressure.
  • It will reduce your heart rate (after you finish moving those bags of top soil).
  • It will give you a chance to show your children that dirt is a lot cleaner than they think and that bugs can be friendly laborers.
  • Gardening will give you a new interest in and appreciation for the weather.
  • Planting an herb, vegetable or flower garden will teach you about horticulture -- and color, and texture, and proportion -- and the value of regular, consistent effort.
  • Gardening, even on a small scale with some bean seeds and peat pots, will show you how exciting it can be to see living things sprout out of the ground.
  • Gardening will give you a tan -- and this is some color you'll earn.
  • Gardening will strengthen your back and knees.
  • It will burn calories.
Gardening will surprise you. You may think you’re an urbanite, secure in the knowledge that getting your fingernails dirty is just not on your bucket list. Try it for one season. Plant a grape tomato (the sweetest), or some round summer squash (that you won't find in the grocery store) or some small leaf basil for fresh pesto (it's nothing like the processed stuff). You'll become a believer. I did.

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