By David Wall, Mount Pleasant Master Gardener
When I was in 4th grade, Mother decided I should have a garden. She picked a spot shaded in mornings, and said, “Have at it!” Well, a fourth grader trying to get bare ground with no gloves or tools didn’t do a very good job. I did manage to plant some carrots so thick they looked like weeds. So, I pulled the weeds, which ended my early gardening efforts! Needless to say, it was MANY years later before I felt a true calling to be a gardener.
Many adults who garden would like to instill a similar desire in their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. The goal is to instill a strong desire without inducing a quick burnout. Outsourcing weeding and maintenance to youngsters for your existing garden can quickly induce burnout, possibly on the first day! Rather, they need simple tasks that have a quick feeling of success.
Perhaps assigning them one to a few plants and showing them what to do. You might let them closely observe whatever you’re doing whatever with many or a row of plants before having the do the same to their assigned plants, all under your close supervision, never scolding, but correcting and encouraging. Letting the water a few plants after watching you first. Don’t forget to turn the sprinkler on them from time to time! Your objective is to make it fun rather than hard work.
Then, there’s watching you prune several plants before (gulp, choke, sweat) allowing them to do the same. Most importantly, show them how to pick vegetables. While you may see considerable pride at any of their efforts, you’ll really see pride when they pick vegetables from THEIR plants. Come fall, they may want to take some veggies to school and discuss what THEY did in THEIR garden!!!