This does not make me a good gardener, just someone who loves new beginnings as much as the thrill of dirt under fingernails. As you get to know me you might realize I have few “after” pictures of my garden. A love for new beginnings doesn't always translate well to strong finishes, and I have more than once lost a garden mid-season because I suddenly lost interest in watering.
Fortunately, living in South Central East Texas (confused yet? Translate to: somewhere north of Houston) gives me two opportunities a year for new beginnings. And this spring just might be a season of grand success.
What makes this season different? Well, for one thing I got started on time. Plant date in my zone works out to March 7, and by now we are in full swing. I have harvested a few strawberries, and have a handful of tomatoes and peppers already set. Today I even discovered my 13 month old artichoke plants, recently transplanted out of the greenhouse into a patch of native clay, have set flowers for the first time. Meaning I've got three baby artichokes growing out there. Squeee!
The second reason I predict success has to do with my new gardening buddy. Upon beginning our third grade homeschool experiment a week ago, gardening seemed a natural place to combine her interest with my needs. She is a little scientist, and I hope to use the garden to teach her a bit about the scientific method.
We have made a growth and observation chart. We catalogued each of the plants in the greenhouse (about 70% of my garden) and chose one of each to measure each week throughout the season. We measured height, number of flowers, and number of set “fruits”, and noted general appearance and presence of pests. We will also mark each time we water, and whenever we harvest, and how much.
Our observation plants include:
Big Bertha Sweet Pepper
Early Girl Tomato
Along the way, I discovered that “measuring” a red onion or a broccoli plant looks different than a tomato or a pepper. She discovered . . . well I am not sure yet. I had to remind her that she only had 90 minutes of school today, and she could darn well get over her attitude about playing number games with me in the garden! But really, I pray for patience in every moment. I hope to find some way to capture her interest in documenting the world around her. She so enjoys learning on her terms, but balks at anything that smacks of “making a report.”
I crave success with this garden because really, I have undertaken two gardens this season. I am carefully tending both, trying to pull weeds, seeking appropriate plants for each, and praying for the consistency to water each every day.
The stakes for the garden of my daughter's heart are a little higher than for my backyard garden, but the challenge remains the same. Can I trust God to grow it? Can I pray for strength to see it through the season? Can I learn to nurture each bit of fruit and harvest it at the proper time?
By posting at least once a month about this season in my dual gardens, I hope to develop that needed consistency, and to show encouraging progress to both my homeschooler and me. My fingers are crossed for a few strong progress reports and a stellar “after” picture.
Read stories of other homeschool families as they learn about gardening and related life lessons by visiting the Homeschool Village here: