PLANT A LITTLE ‘FAMILY’ HAPPINESS
Today’s hectic lifestyle has left many families disconnected from nature. Spending time together as a family in the garden is an easy and natural way to have quality time with one another. We are all reading more and more how our younger children are spending too much time indoors on electronics and too little time outside playing. Being outside, as a family, provides opportunities and activities for family time in the garden.
Writing this blog has given me time to reminisce with my personal upbringing. I have so many fond memories of spending time with many of my extended family members in the garden together picking corn, beans, strawberries, etc. and having fun. The best part for me was when someone would make homemade pies or soups. Boy, those were the days! Without a doubt, these family experiences are what helped mold me into the person I am today.
Here are some ideas to do together as a family:
- PLANT A VEGETABLE GARDEN. The rewards of a vegetable garden are as exciting to adults as they are to children, giving both a sense of accomplishment. Sharing the joy and excitement or even the disappointment and failure of a vegetable garden strengthens family ties. Vegetable gardening allows us to get back to nature with growing some of our own food and learning to work with soil, bugs, water, etc. One of my greatest joy in life was teaching my sons to vegetable garden when they were toddlers. And, now I have the greatest pleasure of providing an opportunity to help teach my grandchildren the love of gardening. Just this past week I took my grandson, who is two years old, outside to my tomato plants. We both picked and ate the ripe Sun Sugar tomatoes right off the plant. He hadn’t done this before. We had fun together. This is just the beginning and I am so excited. And, a new vegetable gardening season is coming this fall when cole crop vegetable such as lettuce, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, kale, etc. can be planted. Now is a good time to plan your strategy for some family fun this fall.
- THE ART OF SHARING. Giving plants or vegetables to neighbors, friends, relatives, or needy organizations is extremely satisfying. I have never met anyone who was not delighted in receiving fresh produce from a vegetable garden, or new starter plants that you rooted or divided or some freshly cut flowers. Just last week, a neighbor of mine two doors down divided her Rudbeckia and gave me some to plant. Learning to share with family, neighbors, and friends is an opportunity to show that you care about others. This is a beautiful personality trait that needs to be done more often in our world today.
- PLANT A SHRUB OR TREE. Plant a shrub or tree for celebration whether it is for a birthday, anniversary, or remembrance. Do the planting as a family event. Donna and I have a few plants (and a house plant) that we planted for special observances. Every time I am around these plants it makes me reminisce about the reason we chose to plant this particular shrub or tree.
- LEARN PLANT NAMES. Spending time in the garden to learn about plants can be fun and rewarding for grownups and kids both. In addition to learning about food crops and beautiful flowers, this time is a perfect opportunity to learn about plant parts, the plants’ growing habits, and their history.
The garden is a fertile ground of opportunities for families to grow together and learn together. Gardening offers the opportunity for the family to share thoughts, ideas – to talk and to laugh –and to listen to each other – by working together without the distraction of the cell phone or other popular electronic devices. All these electronic devices have a need in our society today but it shouldn’t be at the expense of enjoying the outdoors and being around nature. Appreciate and respect the outdoors, listen to the natural sounds of the wind, the birds, and animals, and you will be a better person for doing so.
“BE GLAD OF LIFE BECAUSE IT GIVES YOU A CHANCE TO LOVE, TO WORK, TO PLAY, AND TO LOOK UP AT THE STARS” Henry Van Dyke