Saturday, April 16, 2011

Gardening Books

I am a novice gardener.  When we lived in Georgia, my husband planted a small garden.  I can honestly say that I had nothing to do with it.  It was entirely his project.  When we moved here to Maryland, my husband chose a big spot in our backyard and planned his garden.  By the end of the summer, I was taking care of the garden because he ran out of time on the weekends between our kids and mowing the lawn and his other hobbies.  We didn't have a garden for the next two years.  One year I tried and within minutes of planting it and putting a fence around it, our puppy had tackled the fence and torn my garden to shreds.  So, the next year, no garden except for my front flower bed.

I wanted simple, easy and cheap.  So, I went with strawberries and dusty miller.  My dusty miller took off!  My strawberries did too and they quickly multiplied.  My two plants became 4 and then 8.  I planted a few bulbs, since they would come back year after year and planted two blue salvia plants that have also come back two years in a row.  My front flower bed is now full two years later full of strawberry plants, dusty miller and blue salvia.  My daffodils in the corner brought the first sign of spring.

Then last year, my husband built a wooden fence for me so that I could have a dog-free garden.  It was a much bigger project than I realized.  I am thankful that my husband did it.  It was a bit of a peace keeping effort for me and our dog, Molly.  It is my space.  Molly has no part in it.  I do not have to stress about her digging in my garden and it keeps me from yelling at her more than I already do about digging.

So, I planted in my garden.  My failures were many and my successes a few.
My successes were all mixed with my failures:
--I bought a trellis from Aldis and planted sweet peas plants (which died) on one side and bean seeds on the other side which climbed all over the trellis.  I loved looking at the beautiful vines.
--I bought pepper, tomato, celery, basil, parsley, and several herb plants.  I even planted Marigolds near my tomatoes to incorporate companion planting.  Of all my plants, my parsley, marigolds, and basil did well.  But, many of them were complete flops!  The hot peppers did well too--except that we never did anything with them!  My parsley and lemon balm both survived the winter and have come back this spring.
--I planted one rose that my kids gave me for mother's day.  My friend helped me with the detailed planting instructions needed for a rose and my rose took off.  It went a little crazy, though, so I pruned it back pretty drastically this spring.  I hope it will survive!
--I planted two strawberries two years ago that multiplied last year.

Sadly, I am a bit controlling in my cooking and gardening and I realize it.  In the same way that I am trying to find ways to "lighten up" and relax about my cooking with my kids, it is my desire to do the same with my kids and my garden.

So, here's my plan.  They are going to get to have their own special raised bed where they get to plant what they want to plant.  They will get to weed it, water it, and plant in it.  After they learn how to take care of their garden, they can move into my space where I've planted.  There are other little things that they will be able to help me do like pull the weeds from the rock walkway.  I'm also going to plant two azaleas around the rose bush so that they won't accidentally end up touching the thorny rose bush.

In my quest for encouragement and advice about how to enjoy gardening with my kids, I began searching for a book to help me.  I realize that I am a book person!  Much of this is because with 3 kids, I don't have the time to sit with someone for hours and ask all the questions that I have.  I also don't have a mom or grandma nearby to teach me.  My parents had a huge garden when I was growing up, but it was a bear to me because  my dad was very picky about it.  The only job I had was to water, which had to be done in a very particular way.  I actually never remember planting anything in the garden or preparing the soil.  He wanted things done a particular way.  I don't want to be that way with my kids.  So, I've known I need some good advice to help me through this.  In a book, the advice is also all written down so I can come back and refer to to what I read when I forget it--since I'm always forgetting things!  I do have a great friend Jenny who has been so helpful with the questions I bring to her and she's coming over to help me get started on Monday with my garden.  The biggest blessing from my conversations with her is that she always encourages me to relax and take it easy--something I always need to be encouraged in when it comes to my kids.  As much as I would like things to come our right (or what I think right is), that isn't really the goal.  The goal is to help them learn and enjoy what they are learning.  In this case, I want them to enjoy gardening, being outside, and loving God's creation.  

So, being the book person that I am, I started looking for a book (in addition to my friend Jenny) to encourage me in my gardening with my kids and to help me know what I need to teach them and what are even the most realistic and enjoyable things to do with them.  I looked at a lot of books at the library and then I ordered one sight unseen.  It turned out to be my favorite and thankfully it was the one I'd purchased.  It's from the Williamson Kids Can! series (which I am really coming to love) and it is called Kids Garden!  I need to go to bed now, but I'll write a little more come Monday about why I liked this particular book over others and what I found when I looked for a gardening book for kids.  After that, I'm going to write a few posts about the gardening books that I'm enjoying and learning from....

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