Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Gardening Lessons: When Your Garden's A Flop

This year my husband and I planted a huge garden. (Huge by our standards. Other people might call it a "beginner" garden). We had some vegetables in the ground, others in pots.

Our onions were a pretty big flop. The kids always wanted to pick them and they never got to experience the satisfaction from really gathering onions into a bunch.
I planted the garden for a variety of reasons. It would force us to be outside, engaging the kids' naturalistic intelligences. Lots of our work with that intelligence focus on recycling - which is great, but I wanted to purposely expand.

Then I had the opportunity to write about my family garden and gardening activities with kids. I was thrilled since I was paid to write about an activity I had already planned. I wrote about the good and the bad of my gardening experience.

The finished garden - all ready to grow!

Most importantly I also wanted to have vegetables ready for my family to eat. I wanted healthy food that my kids helped plant and then watched grow. I wanted them to know where food came from and I wanted them to appreciate the hard work that a garden requires.

Ty adding dirt for the herb container.

We learned all that. We also learned the lesson of failure. Because despite all our efforts and rule-following, our garden was, overall, a flop.

We experienced disappointment in waves. Some of our plants were brown or gone - ruined by the sun and animals. Other times the plants never grew. Then we had moderate success with the tomatoes. Only a few turned red, but we had a bumper crop of green ones. The carrots grew funny. The only plants that were/ hugely successful were the jalapenos, and my four and two year old just do not hugely care for them.

So what do you do with this large project that took up so much time and largely failed? You discuss patience and effort. (I hope that's what you do. That's what I'm doing). Ty wants to know when he gets to pick red tomatoes and why we never canned any. His father and I have been reiterating for quite a few days now that we tried to grow red tomatoes, but they just didn't turn red very well. Sometimes when you want something, it doesn't happen even though you put lots of effort into the project. And sometimes even mommy and daddy have no good reason why something didn't turn out very well.

Yes, I'm really bummed about the garden. (I really wonder what I did wrong!) My kids are too, which of course makes me want to fix it. It's such a small problem compared to the ones I know they'll face in future years, which is why I'm trying to use it as an organic conversation piece. Next spring when we plan the garden again, we will make accommodations to hopefully fix what went wrong. It will be a lesson in patience and effort for us all.