Afraid to Garden? Do It Anyway!

Can you feel that? Spring is here! For me, that means it’s time to start gardening again, which makes me deliriously happy.

Last year, our family started gardening together for the first time. My husband and I had been talking about it for awhile, and our then 4-year-old was finally at an age where she could be a bit of a helper. She was so excited about the idea of having a garden (and playing with dirt and a hose). I was so excited about growing our own food and helping us get a deeper appreciation of where it comes from. I was also equally panicky about screwing it up and failing. But we decided to push through, knowing we would be teaching our daughter some great lessons, including dealing with unpredictability and failure.

Going into it, I wanted to read every gardening book out there and not start until we had a detailed plan of exactly what we were going to do and when. My husband? He wanted to throw some seeds in the ground, maybe buy some plants, and see what would happen. In the end, we leaned toward his method. And you know what? It worked! And, by “it worked,” I do not mean we ended up with a Pinterest-worthy garden with perfect pH soil levels. What I mean is that we had an awesome time and also ended up with some tomatoes and cucumbers. 

For those of you who are on the fence about whether to delve into your first gardening attempt, let me help you solve your dilemma right now: Yes! Do it! The fact is, anyone can garden, no matter how much experience, space, or time you have. All you need is a sense of adventure and openness to uncertainty.

Here are a few tips that will help you as you start your family journey into the world of (amateur) gardening:

1. Two Little Gardeners is a great kids’ book that will introduce your children to gardening. It even will offer some basic pointers for you!

2. Kids gardening tools, like these, will allow your kids to really feel like they are part of the action. Bonus — these tools are actually solid enough that you can borrow them in a pinch!

3. You don’t need much more than a hose, soil, some seeds and/or plants, and some containers or a garden plot. Keep it simple!

4. Worried about critters? Try Liquid Fence to keep rabbits and other animals away from your bounty. Any hopes we had of growing kale and collard greens quickly vanished before we discovered this product. Just remember to reapply after it rains! 

5. Things will not go as planned. That is OK. Work on your ability to tolerate unpredictability and failure. It’s a great lesson to keep teaching your children.

6. You’ll need a good sense of humor. See above.

My husband and daughter were the ones who took care of most of the gardening last year. Every night they would go out to tend to the garden and bring in whatever bounty there was. My daughter beamed with pride from responsibility, and the two of them bonded over this shared task. We grew together as a family as we learned from our failures and wrestled with waiting to see if Mother Nature would come through. We brainstormed and problem-solved, we raked and we watered, and we got to see cucumbers grow from seed into an almost overwhelming amount of produce. The look of pride on my daughter’s face when she walked in with her haul of ruby red tomatoes folded up in her shirt was priceless.

For those of you who have gardened, what lessons have you learned? What excites you? What new things are you going to try this year? For those virgin gardeners, what will you plant first?

 

Lindsay Goldberg is a working mom who then comes home and works there, too. She loves finding quick, healthy recipes to make for her family and lives for her Sunday morning escape to the gym. She has given up on trying to find balance, and is, instead focused on surviving and being Good Enough. Likes- books, family dance parties, morning snuggles, and drinking coffee when it's still hot. Dislikes- recipes with more than 10 ingredients or 10 steps, winter, and deadlines