Summer’s end is fast approaching! If you have a garden, chances are that you’re enjoying a bountiful harvest by now. Have you ever considered how your garden could not only nourish your family’s bodies, but also their character? Heather shares how her family has done this.
I think many girls have fond memories of the Little House on the Prairie Series growing up, either the television show or the books. Personally, I was an avid reader beginning in about third grade, and I remember adoring this series. Yet, one book in the series that didn’t seem to grab my attention so much was Farmer Boy. Actually, I’m pretty sure I never really read it. It seemed boring to me as a young girl. I wanted to read about Laura, Nellie and Ms. Olson. The drama, the conflict, the fun.
What a shame though, that I missed out on the educational experience packed away in the pages of Farmer Boy! Currently in our homeschool, we are captivated by this book as we learn about Almanzo Wilder, Laura’s future husband. His country life was enriching, full of hard work and inspiring! As I read through this book with the kids, I am able to point out that yes, compared to others, they lived a rich life and were more well off than most folks in their day. They had more money than some and more luxuries than others, but this all came because of hard work. I point out to them that this book shows us that hard work pays off. They didn’t just sit around all day and hope for the best but they worked for what they had!
Gardening and a Work Ethic
What a powerful lesson. And a lesson that is absolutely found in gardening. In our family, we teach strong work ethics to our children in the form of family gardening. Here’s how it works.
My husband has the main garden that we all help with. I have an herb garden close to the house and each child can have their own raised bed once they turn five years of age. We all work together on my husband’s garden whether it’s planting, weeding or harvesting. This year my husband and I got the rows ready so it could be ready for planting! Then, in the evenings when the weather cooled down a bit, we head out back and plant seeds together as a family. I was sure to get the important seeds in the ground first that I wanted to be sure would grow, (squash, corn, tomatoes, etc.).
Then, we gave the kids seed packets of veggies that could grow in and around the others, (radishes, carrots, mustard etc). We just handed them the packets and let them go at it. No rhyme or reason was needed at this point because they were just “extras.” They loved being a part of the action!
As for the kid’s raised beds, we stumbled across a seed packet called Seeds For Kids. For only $.50 you receive a pack of a random seed assortment that will produce a “surprise” garden for your child. The first year we tried this, my son’s garden flourished! Flowers, mustard greens, corn and all sorts of different plants grew producing a beautiful garden! We went ahead and ordered them again this year and my children have loved seeing what will pop up in addition to the seeds that they have planted by choice!
We are just now entering into a season of harvest. Each day, my sons head outdoors before we begin our school day, by choice, and check the gardens. One will come back with a basket full of ripe tomatoes. Another with some tasty cucumbers. They don’t see it as a chore, but rather a reward for their hard work!
As for my preschooler, she is able to help as well. This past week, while making tomato sauce with our fresh garden tomatoes, she was able to help me mash up the tomatoes and enjoyed every minute of it, because we were together. She was willing to work hard because to her, it was just as much fun as it was work!
A Few Ways We’ve Incorporated Gardening Tasks Into Our Everyday Lives
- Saving Toilet Paper Rolls For Seed Starters in the Early Spring
- Saving Cardboard For Weed Control in between the Garden Rows
- Making a Worm Farm (Homeschool Project!) To Produce Compost Tea for Stronger Soil
- Collecting Old Tires to Turn Into Raised Garden Beds
- Seed Collecting (allowing the kids to save/trade seeds for the next year’s garden)
- 100 Seeds on the 100th Day of School: I like to plan the year so the the kids can plant 100 seed starters indoors (or in our greenhouse) on the 100th day of school each year!