“I know nothing about gardening, but we’re gonna try!” I called out with a laugh in response to my neighbor taking notice of our venture. It’s like I needed a qualifier to the invisible onlookers of the world who would be hypothetically studying my skills. My four-year-old son and I were sitting in the dirt in front of our house. I, pulling weeds, and he, digging with his little beach shovel.
Days before that, my son suddenly expressed great interest in growing flowers in an afternoon’s time. After inwardly face-palming, I flat out told my preschooler, “Uhh… Mommy doesn’t know how to grow flowers…” with a gritted grin. To which he enthusiastically replied, “But I do!”
Let’s Back Track
I come from a family full of green thumbs, on all sides. I regret to say, either I didn’t inherit that gene, or I just didn’t care enough to learn those skills while still under my parents’ roof. *ahem* I guess probably the latter, but I go with the former story usually.
I have struck out so many times with keeping indoor plants. I feel like there’s some plant whispering skill that I lack. Either I forget to water plants, don’t water them enough, or I water them too much and they get moldy. Eek.
I also have a cat with a plant-eating habit I cannot stop, even if the plant is hanging from the ceiling. He always finds a way to gnaw on my success. Regardless, one way or another, even cacti die in my home.
I know there are others like me, right?! A few years ago, I just decided plants under my supervision are not long for this world. I have other interests, skills, and capabilities…like keeping my pets and kid alive. So that was that. I am not a gardener. I accepted my identity as a plant killer.
Fast forward to the conversation with my son…
I tried letting my son down gently in his determination to grow flowers. But he insisted he could teach me! *heart melt* Feeling guilty, I eventually conceded, “We can’t do it this afternoon, but maybe later this week.” I needed time to research and try to learn all the gardening skills so I wouldn’t disappoint my son.
The next day, I was complaining to my sister about my kid wanting to garden, of all things! I was in despair over the energy it would take to figure out how to make this endeavor successful. In the midst of my complaining, my wise, older sister interrupted, “Just listen to your kid! He’s telling you he knows how to do it. Get him the seeds and let him do it!”
“But what if nothing grows?”
“It doesn’t matter! At least give him the opportunity to try it.”
Alright, alright, alright. So wise.
Sowing the Seeds
With three packages of flower seeds promising to yield “colorful” flowers, per my son’s wish, we got to work. The only thing I knew right away was to pull all the weeds from their roots — the ones left over from our neglectful first year in this house.
My son joined in for a few minutes, then wandered off as I continued. He came back with a beach shovel in hand, exclaiming, “This will do the trick!” Thus began the digging at the dirt and flipping the soil and mulch around.
I watched him in question for a second, and decided that was probably a good idea! Like tilling the soil, right? Maybe my son does know what he’s doing…everything he thought to do along the way seemed familiar to me. Like a distant memory being recalled. I confirmed, “Yeah, keep doing that!”
So we trucked along until all the weeds were pulled from that section. By this point, my preschooler decided he needed to dig a trench. Did he get that knowledge from preschool, a kids’ show, or his gardening book? I don’t know. But it seemed brilliant, so I went along with it. We dug a trench through the middle. I figured that should give me a better idea of whether any new growth is a flower or a weed since the weeds tend to pop up in the front along the walkway.
Finally, we sprinkled the seeds throughout the trench and covered them with dirt. I knew it would rain the next day, and the soil was pretty moist, so we didn’t water them that day.
Every day after the planting, my son insisted on checking the flowers. Each day brought bummer news that nothing was growing yet. I reminded him every time that it would take a few weeks or even months. I silently prayed for some fruit from our labor.
After several days of the waiting game, I got fed up with how long these flowers were taking. Don’t they know taking their sweet old time was disappointing my son’s little heart each day?!
We were hopping out of the minivan later to get groceries when my son spotted flowers for sale across the parking lot. With fiery spirit, I determined, “Today is the day I’m getting my son flowers, darn it.” He picked out a bucket of purple annual flowers — don’t ask me what they are.
The next day, he and his dad dug a hole in the corner of our garden and transplanted those precious flowers in front of our house. I think they look a little small for the area like we should have gotten more if I really cared about gardening. But my son’s daily delight in seeing and watering them with his little fireman hose pack is enough for me! He loves them, and it’s holding us over for now while we wait for more growth. (P.S. – A week in, I think we’re seeing some sprouts from the seeds! I could be wrong, but I have hope!)
Lessons Learned, for Fellow Plant Killers
- Just try it. Let your kid have the experience of trying. Even if nothing grows, you’ll learn something. It doesn’t have to be complicated or perfect.
- Getting outside in the dirt is fun! It’s refreshing to get dirty alongside your kid sometimes. Gardening with your child is so much more fun than going at the task alone. If they are into it — do it!
- Take advantage of your kid’s natural desire to dig in the dirt and redirect it to gardening. It can’t hurt!
- At least cleaning weeds out of the garden is really rewarding. It feels so good to look at the front of our house, proud of our hard work! It also motivated me to make this an activity we do together during the weekdays, and keep working on other parts of our yard. I have never felt this way before…
- Sunshine and fresh air is always a good thing. I’m not even talking about plants. But sure, them too.
- You can look up which flowers grow best in your area, and when to plant them. If that feels like too much energy to plan for, don’t let it be an obstacle. The mystery part is kind of exciting!
- You can always plant some pre-grown flowers from the store and see how they fare. If you or your child need that instant result, it works too!
- There are so many spiritual, emotional applications of gardening that I appreciate more now. Growth takes time, for instance. You get the idea…
Lastly, if you’re more serious about wanting to learn gardening, check out these simple tips to help you get started… from someone who actually knows what she’s doing!