Tuesday, May 13, 2008


"To forget how to dig the earth
and tend the soil is to forget ourselves."
-- Mohandas K. Gandhi.

Gardening is one of those things that is more than meets the eye. I enjoy having a garden, because I like working outside, I like feeling the earth on my hands, I like seeing things grow from small and uniform to riotous color in a dense tangle of foliage, growing and expanding, becoming something. And then, to harvest something warm from the earth and eat it, to be able to sustain ourselves, to take part in the cycle of that. I enjoy that. But I don't just do it for myself.

I also garden for my boys. To connect to the soil, to know of something that will live and grow and change. To understand through smell, touch, and sight. So as soon as they can grab a handful of soil, they have been in this tiny garden with me. In spring, we dig and clear and plan and plant. We remember what we plant where. We try to remember what grew there last year. What grows well together. What doesn't. In summer we walk each morning, picking bugs, looking for clues, plucking here, feeling soil there. We water, we watch the weather forecast. And then as we go, we begin to harvest. I love seeing little boys in the garden in their PJs with their little bamboo baskets collecting what is ripe that day. It is their garden as much as it is mine, and while it is small, it is carefully tended.

It isn't about memorizing or "learning" about gardening, though. It is about sensing and feeling and experiencing. To see a small child gently rub an herb between two fingers and then smell slowly and deeply to inhale the scent is a wonderful sight. And they remember. Today A smelled one of the herbs, and yelled OREGANO - smells like pizza!

Today we planted many pots of herbs the boys selected. We like to grow as many herbs as we can - and have many planted in ground throughout the yard, but always do pots on our front porch as well since we get such warmth and sun there. The boys helped put soil in the pots, add some worm castings, and slowly ease the herbs out of little pots before placing them in their hole and covering with soil. Today they planted thyme, 3 types of sage, rosemary, marjoram, oregano, dill, fennel, lemon verbena and cilantro. We use herbs all year round from our garden - fresh, dried, flavoring oils or vinegars, in soap, in tea...so good.

So far, we have planted (fruit/veggie/herb):
-brussel sprouts
-swiss chard
-corn (mini red for popcorn)
-red currants

Many things from last year are going strong, such as the blueberries, raspberries, tarragon, lemon balm and several types of mint! Now we just need some decent, regular warm days so that we can get the warmth loving plants in the ground!


Tammy said...

I'm not so good at gardening, but Katie is going to try a few things in a tiny plot. I'm thinking herbs and such. I'd love for her to have some success and be able to harvest something she planted and nurtured.

tiff said...

::no garden this year::living vicariously through your blog::

I get what your saying...i remember when we lived on the coast of the Bering Sea and had this enormous garden...the boys' would run out in their jammies and rubber boots to pull beets from the ground so they could eat them raw...pure happiness, joy & satisfaction from growing your own nourishment.

::so much learning to take place in a garden::

dawn klinge said...

I loved reading about your garden and the way you feel about it. I feel very much the same-although my garden this year won't have quite as much as yours(maybe next year). I also planted herbs today, but I couldn't find any rosemary at the nursery and it's one of my favorites, so I'm not done quite yet.

Our Home Schooler and Jen said...

yum such nice things in your garden

Anonymous said...

sigh. how i wish to take the time to garden once again. We've dug a small space and planted some pots but if we weren't renting i'd transform the front lawn.

Tara said...

Your thoughts on gardening and connecting to the earth are resonating with me. I know with the big move I'll only have time for some container gardening. Owen was at his grandparents this past weekend, dug himself a hole in the soil and rolled around in it!! I guess he's born to garden!

Anonymous said...

Your blog is simply lovely. I get so many wonderful ideas from you about things to do with my own children.

Thank you very much!

World Wide Alternative said...

*sigh*...just gettin' my fix...;) Xxx

Jodi Anderson said...

That quote is SO appropriate. I really do find myself in gardening and weeding is the best meditation ... Not that I don't get tired of weeding!

Yarrow said...

I adore gardening and we are just seeing ourlittle sprouts reach for the sun. I feel close to the Mother Earth when I am in my garden. Garden blessings to you and your sweet boys.

FiveGreenAcres said...

I had seen Gaia's Garden on your book list awhile back and had been waiting patiently for my turn at the library to get it. Got it now, and flipped through it this morning with a coffee-induced euphoria and a steady chorus of "Yes! That's IT!"
I think it's just what I've been looking for. Thank you for the (passive) recommendation! It will be going on my book wish list... which grows by the hour, it seems.
Happy gardening! I'm off soon for a trailer load of composted horse manure. Let me know if you need some - she has oodles of it and has instructed me to tell all my friends.

Anet said...

Wonderful post Denise, I love gardening with my kids too. Noah loves to grab the basket and head outside to harvest. He loves that word "harvest"

Holly said...

Well said. I love the quote (and all of the others too, always so fitting of the topic). You've officially inspired me to start a garden of our own as soon as is feasible...Thank You!

Sharon said...

Thank you twice. First for Gandhi's words and then for yours.......

"It isn't about memorizing or "learning" about gardening, though. It is about sensing and feeling and experiencing."

I think your garden is already feeding us all (at least those of us who still have snow on the ground!)

Cami said...

Your garden, and the way you and your boys tend to it, is an inspiration. I usually get off to a good start, but by the end of summer, it's "survival of the fittest"! I'm going to try and be more diligent this year - wish me luck ;)

Anonymous said...

i wish i lived next door to you

Lisa Anne said...

Sounds like an amazing garden, mine becomes so overwhelming this time of the year,we are running, running, running to keep up. Yesterday we panted potatoes. 4 people, 200 lbs of potatoes, at least 500+lbs of rock moved and all very sore backs! This is my dream, I am just looking for the balance.

I love that you have a nice mixture of perennial foods along with some amazing choices of annuals. And of course, the photos are amazing!

Claudia - La Casa nella Prateria said...

This post is lovely. Unfortunately, I would like to garden with my kids but unfortunately I am not good at all...

piscesgrrl said...

You inspired me to pot some herbs yesterday!