Summer Fun in (and out) of the Sun: Growing Gardens

Jul 02, 2021 | Posted by Jennifer

“Sometimes since I've been in the garden I've looked up through the trees at the sky and I have had a strange feeling of being happy as if something was pushing and drawing in my chest and making me breathe fast.” – Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

Burnett’s classic children’s novel, The Secret Garden, celebrates nature and its healing touch, achieved through one child’s efforts to restore a neglected and weedy garden to its former glory. As she begins the work, other characters join her, working alongside in the desolate space. Over the course of the novel, the garden goes from a dead, tangled, depressing space to one that is filled with vibrancy, color, and resiliency. These characteristics are emulated in the characters as well.

That is the potential that working in a garden provides.

Back in the days when my kids were much younger and our family lived in Ohio, our community offered a garden club for children. Every year that was a huge deal for my kids. They wouldn’t miss it! Twice a week I would haul the kids out to the local metropark for their garden club meeting. One year especially stands out. The children partnered together to plan, prepare, plant, grow, and harvest two gardens: a “candy” garden and a “pizza” garden. The candy garden grew sweet-tasting plants, such as stevia, lemon balm, and peppermint. For the pizza garden some of the plants they grew included basil, tomatoes, and oregano. The kids also harvested samples, which they submitted to the county fair. My youngest son won best in show for a marvelous sunflower specimen!

Consider getting your children started in gardening. It’s not too late in the season! Gardens are wonderful ways to combat nature deficit disorder. They needn’t be massive. Any type of garden can do even if you don’t have any land to work on. You can opt for a sunny window sill or window box garden filled with flowers or herbs. You might even look into reaching out to your county extension office. In my county residents can rent out a patch of land to garden for a very reasonable price. You may even find that there is a local gardening club for children, just as I found in my community.

Different types of gardens you might explore include raised bed gardens, hydroponic gardens, potted plant gardens, and victory gardens. The plants can be edible or simply beautiful. The choice is yours! Right now I am just beginning to dabble in orchid growing, so I’ve created a small grouping of just three orchid plants alongside a small pot of succulents and a pot of basil that I call my tabletop garden.

Here is a photo of my tiny orchid garden, taken earlier in the week.

Gardening packs powerful benefits. Here are just a few of the positives to growing a garden:

  • gaining personal satisfaction
  • exercising
  • improving personal responsibility
  • growing healthy food
  • learning some botany
  • beautifying your living space
  • preserving heirloom species
  • connecting with others through garden clubs and affinity groups (e.g., orchid growers, African violet growers, etc.)
  • developing a hobby for life

Are you interested in getting started? Here are a few simple ways you can plan a garden beyond the basics of purchasing plants or sowing seeds:

No matter where you live, there’s a garden that you can cultivate. Include the whole family in the fun. Not only will you be planting plants, you’ll be planting happy memories.

Jennifer Mauser has always loved reading and writing and received a B.A. in English from the University of Kansas in 1991. Once she and her husband had children, they decided to homeschool, and she put all her training to use in the home. In addition to homeschooling her children, Jennifer teaches IEW classes out of her home, coaches budding writers via email, and tutors students who struggle with dyslexia.

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