My mother always kept a garden and would drag her children out to it every day. She would poke around and point out blossoms. She would often talk to the plants and coax them along. When I was a child I hated gardening. All the bugs, the weeds, and worst of all, VEGETABLES! Ew!
As I’ve gotten older my children have taken an interest in gardening and when we moved to the GTA we pursued it. Now we have a composter on our back deck and we visit the UTM community garden every week.
The best part of gardening is that we MAKE things! Real things!
Here is a picture of our compost that we put down on our flower garden after planting seedlings:
This is months of egg shells, veggie scraps, piles of leaves, paper shreds, all stuffed into a composter we bought at Canadian Tire. We just roll it once a day (ok once a week) and now we have our own tasty plant food. Plus it saves on garbage waste. You would not believe the amount of items that you can put into a composter.
When we garden we get to make new friends. Both human and amphibian!
This is a toad that my little ones caught and released. They love catching toads, looking at slugs and any other thing that crawls or creeps around the garden. The children are kind of sad because the garden is gated and the rabbits can’t come in. I’ve explained that it’s a rabbit buffet and we need to eat vegetables too. Toads and rabbits have helped me teach compassion for smaller creatures and explain how we all are connected on this planet.
We are not the most experienced gardeners but we have introduced gardening to our neighbors. It has become a very social event and it’s exciting to hear the wonderment in a child’s voice when their curiosity is piqued by the plant’s life cycle.
When we harvest we share our food with the Food Centre and with our neighbors at Student Housing. A bag of Spinach or Kale is often welcomed. Cucumbers, eggplants, beets…those are gladly received. This is demonstrating a work ethic and how altruism is what helps make the world go round. There is no sense in hoarding food and letting it go bad. It’s better to share and we all benefit.
We are constantly learning about harvesting, weeding, planting, and which bugs are “bad” and which bugs are “good” for our garden. A summer vacation doesn’t mean that learning has to end. Our environment has many things to teach us every day. You’ll be surprised how fun it is to learn something together with your family.
Who knows? The spinach that your child whines about may come from some plants you grew yourself.
UTM Food garden: http://utmorientation.ca/utmfoodcentre.co/programs/food-garden/
Dig In Campus Argriculture: http://campusagriculture.ca/projects/
DIY Composting tips: http://ueat.utoronto.ca/diy-composting/