When avid gardeners are asked, "How on earth did you get into gardening?" the vast majority answer that the greatest influence behind their passionate love of gardening was a parent or grandparent. That is my story, too.
We called my Croatian grandmother "Majka" (MY-kah) which means mother in Croatian. I loved playing in her garden! One of the veggies she taught me to plant was kohlrabi. After letting me pull one up from the ground, she'd hold a sharp paring knife in one hand while the other held the alien-looking kohlrabi. She then proceeded to peel it in one long, unbroken curly cue in front of me, not an easy task, as I stared spellbound at this peeling performance. Majka then offered me a triangle of the crisp, white fruit still perched on the end of her blade. To this day, I love kohlrabi! Scroll down to see pictures of Majka walking in one of her gardens and my father in his Wisconsin garden.
Meanwhile, as Majka tended the soil, Grandpa spent his time filling the garden with whimsey. He built a little greenhouse that looked like a windmill and designed folk art toys in the shapes of colorful birds attached to long, thin ribbons of metal. When stuck in the ground, these birds moved as if flying back and forth in the flowerbeds. A tire swing hung from the branch of an old maple tree, and the bearded irises growing nearby smelled of citrus.
I believe that it was during those magical visits, the basic traditions of gardening were handed down to me, and I was hooked! Through observation and simple interactions with my elders, I learned how to garden. I was given the opportunity to play, plant, and pick. Children especially love the picking! Now, after many years, my own grandchildren are In the Garden with Grandma, and I am one of the many gardeners who feels a deep desire to pass down the joy of growing food to the next generation. Scroll on down for more . . .
Are you ready to try gardening with your kids, but you don't know where to start? With so many competing demands on families these days, spending time together in the garden seems like a mighty precious commodity. All too often, other activities fiercely compete with time spent outdoors.
- Are you a busy parent looking for ways to make growing garden-to-table food with your children so attractive, they will walk away from the computer screen? Do you need some gardening ideas that you can pull out at a moment's notice?
- Are you a grandparent looking for some suggestions on how to build lasting memories with your grandkids as you pass on your love of gardening?
- Do you home school your children and want them to learn the basics of where food comes from, but have little time to pull lessons together?
- Are you involved in school or community gardening? Need a few ideas?
I believe In the Garden with Grandma may be able to help!
Just remember, we don't need to "know it all" or have the "perfect" gardens. Mother Nature and children only need a willing "grown-up gardener" to work alongside of them both. I sincerely hope that In the Garden with Grandma is one place where together we can harness the power of plants to transform the lives of the young ones we love!
My grandmother in one of her gardens in 1979, and my father in his Wisconsin garden in 1988.