Less than a week into summer vacation, the Green Thumb moms have discovered something that entertains children more than electronics.
It’s a garden.
Instead of spending the evening hours thumbing texts on their I-Pods and phones, our kids have opted to Green Thumb their summer evenings in the community garden.
The children range in ages from pre-school to college. Attention spans run the gamut. But somehow, each finds something of interest when they step through the gate and into the non-virtual landscape.
Take beans, for instance. On the dinner plate, the vegetable evokes feelings of disappointment for some diners. But in the garden this week, they were a great find to one fifth grader.
“I just moved some leaves and found two boss beans!” he said, squatted next to me as we searched a row of plants along the fence for the skinny vegetables. “I’m finding some awesome beans!”
He was right. The plants were full of green beans, making them easy to locate and pick. The vegetable bowl between us was filling up quickly.
“Wow!” he said, eventually standing up and raising two fists full of beans into the air. “I shall call myself Bean Master!”
A few rows over, his younger brother, a first-grader, found a small green cherry tomato that had fallen to the ground.
“Can I plant this?” he asked.
“Sure,” I said. “But I doubt it’s going to grow.”
Before long he had created a mound in the middle of a walking path. I watched him stick the round tomato into the center and cover it with soil.
“How can I mark the spot?” he asked with concern that someone might unknowingly step on his effort. We put two garden statues – a skunk and a Cardinal – next to the tiny hill.
A few rows down, his mother and older sister were contemplating whether or not they should pick a head of the romaine lettuce. They leafy greens looked ready to pick, but as novice gardeners, none of us could be sure. In the end, we each cut a head and went home with fresh salad.
Onions were a separate matter. Although the stalks looked thick and ready, the vegetables underneath the earth were not emerging yet. The curiosity was nagging at one of the children, who asked several times if we could pick the onions. The urge to grab those green sprouts and pull wouldn’t go away.
So with my permission, the child yanked up the vegetable, which was way too small. With disappointment, the child tried to re-bury the onion somewhere else in the garden. The green stalks no longer pointed up. They lay flat on the ground unlikely to survive. But the sacrifice will be worth it when the child pulls a full onion from the row in a few weeks and learns the benefits of patience.
Other discoveries peaked interest in the garden. A tiny purple eggplant, a prickly cucumber, bright yellow squash and smooth green zucchini were bubbling from various flowers. Heavy tomatoes were starting to turn red. A handful of blueberries were ready for harvest, enough for each of us to eat one.
We talked, laughed, compared and explored amongst the plants until dusk kicked us out and the garden show ended. We exited the gate wanting to see more. Lucky for us, we can return tomorrow evening for the sequel.