Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

In Went the Seeds, out Popped a Gardener

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

In Went the Seeds, out Popped a Gardener

Article excerpt

Even before my husband, John, and I adopted our two sons, we plotted how to encourage them to love gardening. I ordered them a set of children's gardening tools complete with a pint-size orange shovel, hoe, and rake. I envisioned them turning over the earth and raking leaves into a pile like Mistress Mary of "The Secret Garden."

On a frosty January night after a long flight from South America, we arrived home with our boys. As soon as the ground thawed, we handed them their tools and arranged the boys in a classic "American Gothic" pose. "Smile!" I called as I snapped their photo. A breeze lifted their black hair, and the orange hoe and shovel contrasted with their blue denim overalls.

Opening packets of seeds is one of the simple thrills of horticulture that fills a gardener with visions of succulent carrots and bouquets of red, pink, and orange zinnias.

Wee hands would prefer diminutive seed packages, I reasoned. So I searched seed catalogs until I found and ordered a special child's garden: a large envelope illustrated by a drawing of a perfect garden that contained small packets labeled Black Seeded Simpson lettuce, Cherry Belle radish, and French marigolds, along with Kentucky Wonder pole beans.

"Can we plant them now?" 4-year-old Mattie asked.

"It's too cold outside," I answered, "but we can start the marigolds."

While Mattie's hands filled paper cups with potting soil and set them on a tray, I helped 2-year-old Carlos press seeds evenly into flats.

Soon, the seedlings sported tiny flower buds, and each time the boys touched them, the greenhouse smelled of pungent marigolds.

In May, John tilled a five-foot-square plot. With my help, Carlos dropped bean seeds in a wobbly row while Mattie scattered radish and lettuce seeds into a shallow trough.

We encircled their garden with a white wire fence, and a few weeks later watched our sons harvest their first salad. We - and they - were proud when bouquets of their marigolds graced our table that summer.

Every spring I bought the boys the special children's garden seed mixture until Mattie lost interest in gardening, and Carlos decided to focus on other crops.

He planted large blocks of sweet corn and grew a prize-winning monster pumpkin that he exhibited at our local fair. …

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