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Gardening with Kids: Planning


It was obvious that he didn’t have a plan to get down. The view out was fine, the view down from the tree made his voice a little shaky. I would catch him if he fell from a cloud. As such, it took all I could to keep from climbing up to rescue him. When kids dabble into independence at a certain age, parents are rightfully nervous. If you tend to be paralyzed by the fear of your child being injured, independence is a particularly tough phase which usually begins with the first steps and never really ends.

Start with the end in mind. This is one of the seven habits of highly effective people. It is not, however, a habit that kids usually excel at. Impulsive behavior and being moved by the spirit are how our kids bumble through their days. How will I get down from this lovely tree, is a classic afterthought. We talked for a little about getting stuck, how it happens, how to make getting stuck less frequent, and finally what to do when you are stuck. He did climb down most of the way on his own, and I held him a little tighter than usual when he reached the ground.

Around this time of year, as the holidays wear off and the cold, slow and sniffly days of winter set in, gardeners start to plan. What grew well last year, what didn’t, why the kale was in the wrong place, and I bet the tomatoes will be amazing next summer! Gardening is a lovely exercise in looking backwards, forwards and being in the here and now. We use our garden for food, for harvesting seeds to sell, and as a form of meditation. We want to grow more each year than we did the year before and for that reason, the garden gets larger each winter.

The sun is fixed in the sky but we wobble. Near the winter solstice, the light in the garden is quite different than in midsummer. Consistent with our group, the conversation on where to put a new garden bed quickly devolved into a yelling match. Bless our neighbors. The kid who won chose the spot that would have full sun all summer. The other two chose spots that would be full shade. Planning my dears, will help our sunflowers grow tall. And as is custom, papa went into a long-winded lecture on the axial tilt of earth, why we look to the south, and why these variables need to be considered when working in the winter garden. When I looked up from my speech, one kid was off poking the compost, another was going somewhere with a wheelbarrow, and another was up in a tree.