“Only Interested People are Interesting” ~ Jeff Cooper
The comedian Gallagher talked about children having “new eyes”, and the opportunity parents have to look at the world again through new eyes as our own kids experience the world for the first time.
One of the great opportunities to relive the joy of discovery is to plant a garden with your child. Getting dirty preparing the soil. Responsibility for weeding and watering. The eager anticipation of waiting for the first sprouts. Watching the vegetables ripen followed by the adrenaline rush the child gets from harvesting something they grew themselves and sprinting into the house to show off the prize.
Most elementary schools start teaching basic lessons on ecosystems in First or Second Grade. This is the perfect time to start a garden.
The key to gardening is start small. If you are new to gardening, start with some tomatoes in 10”-12” flower pots or flower boxes. Everything necessary is readily available at the local home improvement store or nursery for minimal cost. After the first season, move up to planting the garden in a flower bed or an above ground box.
Make a game of looking for pests on the plants. Seeing who can pull the most weeds can make the waiting period between planting and harvesting a bit more interesting. If you have the space, start a compost pile and go organic.
Squarefootgardening.com (http://www.squarefootgardening.com/) is a resource on a simple gardening technique that minimizes maintenance, and is easily expandable to match the gardener’s ambition. The local university “ag extension” (Example: http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu ) is an excellent resource for information on soil preparation, planting seasons, pest and disease control tailored for your specific location.
The time spent working in the garden provides fresh air and exercise. It also opens endless opportunities to engage in the lost art of conversation. Talk to your child about school, friends, or any other subject that comes up. Both of you are able to really open up in the neutral ground of “our” garden. Be prepared for the conversations to take many bizarre turns because this is where the “new eyes” can really show you how cool the world still is.