Lessons to Be Learned
In our fast-paced society where the family unit itself struggles to stay grounded, a garden can be a wonderful way to teach our children valuable life-lessons and principles.
In our modern world of convenience, our children have been taught that food comes in a box or a package from a grocery store. Even if we are shopping at healthier stores, it’s probable that our children think that everything they eat comes from a building. A vegetable garden is a wonderful way to help our children understand the true origin of nutrition.
We also live in an instant society with drive-thru dinners, microwave lunches and online movies. It’s rare that we have to wait for anything and so our children are growing up without understanding the principle of “delayed gratification”. A garden is a wonderful way to help children get involved in a project that is going to require effort and patience to enjoy.
Additionally, a garden requires dedication and hard work, which can teach our children the valuable principle of “follow through”. Whether it’s a flower garden or a vegetable garden, this project will require time and effort. In today’s society with video games and DVR, our children have been trained to interrupt the process, just pause and come back to it. A garden can be an excellent way for children to experience a sense of accomplishment and the reward of a job well done.
Chemicals and Ecology
One of the most valuable lessons we can teach our children with a garden is an understanding of nature. Everything around us is in a chemical or living balance and our backyard is no different. Even though we can’t see them, there are thousands of microorganisms and many insects and critters living in a delicate balance. Introduce the wrong chemical and you can reach, touch and effectively throw off the whole system.
Everything is connected, so realize that no one thing acts in a vacuum. There is a balance. A chemical that was created to kill one pest may very well kill other helpful organisms. A treatment that was meant to help certain plants flourish may actually contain chemicals that are dangerous to other plants.
What to grow?
When deciding what to grow, remember that your children will have more fun and benefit greatly from the lesson if they have a goal in mind. So, consider growing a topical garden. For instance, a salad or pizza garden can be great “topics”.
With the “salad” garden be sure to plant all of the things that make up a great dinner salad. These can include but are not limited to: tomatoes, basil, cucumbers, carrots, radishes, beans, iceberg lettuce or spinach.
For a healthy “pizza” garden, you may want to grow seasonings and tomatoes for the sauce, as well as Swiss chard, zucchini, eggplant, bell peppers and onions for toppings. With this topic, your options are only limited by what you and your children are willing to put on top of a healthy pizza.
The vegetables you grow should be chosen based on your environment but can include corn, carrots, peas, broccoli, spinach, radicchio, asparagus, and more. Whatever you choose, remember to have fun and let your children help as much as they are willing and able.