Last week of March, a few rays of sun and Jem and I head for the garden (I have to do something while I'm standing back and doing nothing).
Now, believe me, I'm no expert- prior to last year, all I'd ever attempted to grow was basil in a pot from Thrifty's. But suddenly, with a three-year old in tow and too many hours to fill, spending time in the garden, digging and watering and (hopefully) picking things to eat, seemed a useful summer-accessory to my sanity.
So, armed with half a library of "Gardening with Kids" books, a pair of undersized/overpriced ladybug gardening gloves and a set of miniature plastic tools, Jem and I began our latest quest.
This is what the books neglected to say:
1) Gardening with kids books are written by gardeners without kids.
2) A better title would be: "How to get any gardening done with a kid around."
3) Gardening with children is like doing anything else with small people: peaks of great joy interspersed with extreme frustration (not necessarily for both parties at the same time).
4) Adult tools are inherently more attractive to small hands.
5) It is amazing what an adult can achieve with a half-pint watering can.
But, in spite of these challenges, we had enormous fun. Jem got dirty, he got wet, he dug and planted and picked, and breathed in hours of fresh air. He uprooted flowers, battered bushes with sticks and laid flat on his back in the grass to watch the clouds glide past. And, in between his adventures, I planted a few seeds. By August, we even harvested a whole week's worth of veggies from our own backyard.
This is what we learned:
1) Neither you, nor your kid, should wear anything that either of you minds getting completely ruined.
2) Don't actually expect your child to do any of the work.
3) Make sure your kid has a "safe" patch of garden to dig (without digging up), to water (without drowning), and to eat (without digitalis).
4) Focus on edible plants (vegetables, herbs and flowers).
5) Aim low, breathe deep, and practise non-attachment to the whole process.
And, with a little preparation, a little luck and a lot of patience, the gardening magic will happen.
Next time: Five Plants to Grow with Kids