“Surround children with beauty at an early age, and they will pursue it the rest of their lives.” – Charlotte Moss
When you were growing up, how many of you heard your mother say, “You reap what you sow?’ Well, mine certainly said it and often. Today, I still remember and try to heed her good advice. Mom’s words were true and apply to many situations, especially when it comes to sowing seeds of beauty and all things good in children.
Charlotte Moss clearly understands planting seeds of beauty and her quote led me to think of my own life. As a child, my summers were spent with my grandmother in the small town of Collins, Mississippi. My grandmother was an extremely knowledgeable rosarian and vegetable gardener. Under her guidance, I learned about roses, vegetables and anything else she loved in the garden world. Of course, she had passed this love onto my mother. And, when I think of what I learned from mom, well let’s just say it is astounding what she passed on to me. I was actually unaware of all that had been planted in me, from both of them, until my husband and I had our first home. Upon the arrival of spring that first year, I instinctively knew it was time to be in the garden and beautify the world. At least our corner of it. During the past 44 years since our first spring together, my love of gardening, home and the pursuit of beauty has only continued to grow. And, I pray it will continue until my last breath. It has enriched my life and brought so very much joy to me, my husband and our family. Truly, I am hopeful I may even be inspiring many of you to create beauty as well.
So, let us sow some seeds in those “little ones.” Children are such inquisitive little beings, soaking up all they learn like a sponge. The bold, happy colors and fragrance found in many flowers and herbs are child magnets. Therefore, gardening is fun and interesting to them. The experience of digging in the soil, getting dirty, planting, watching a seed become a flower or yummy vegetable is priceless. Patience and knowledge of nature are learned as they stand quietly watching the butterflies, bees and hummingbirds feeding. And, by nurturing their plantings, they also learn responsibility.
Now let us talk about choices of seeds and plants. Flowers first, of course. Zinnias are a wonderful choice for flowers. The seeds are available at just about every garden center. They are available in a wide assortment of child-happy colors and are very easy to grow. They can be sown directly into the soil or in a container. Unless you have a large space I would avoid the tall/giant varieties which grow to 40-50 inches in height. There are two great medium varieties. One is “Come and Cut Again,” and the other is “Raspberry Lemonade.” Both of these varieties are about 24-30 inches in height. In the dwarf category (about 12” in height) is a lovely variety, “Thumbelina Dwarf.” There are many others in all the categories, however I have grown the varieties mentioned and know them to be outstanding. Sunflowers and marigolds (available as plants) are also good choices. Both are easily grown from seed and are available in a variety of pretty colors as well.
Next, think about what vegetable or herbs you will enjoy using in your cooking. Children will delight in seeing their vegetables or herbs being prepared in a meal. Chives, tomatoes, peppers and basil are fun, easy choices. All can be grown in a container or planted in the ground. Basil can be grown from seed or can be purchased as plants. Basil is superb for children since is loaded with fragrance, there are numerous varieties and it enhances flavor of many culinary delights. In a small glass, basil can also be a sweet bouquet for the table, easily created by a child.
Chives are a perennial herb. One plant in an inexpensive terra cotta pot can be enjoyed for several years. Like basil, chives are a delightful addition to many foods. Chives also sport quite a lovely bloom in the spring, perfect for bouquet-making and adding an attractive presentation to the food being served. Chive blooms are a bit spicy, so use them according to your taste. If chives are planted in a pot, the pot will require shelter in the garage or basement for the winter. Bring it out in the early spring and it will soon be ready for you to enjoy for another summer.
Lastly: tomatoes and peppers. Children love cherry or grape tomatoes. They are easy for children to harvest and they produce in abundance. A bush variety tomato plant is also a good choice. The plant does not grow too large, but the tomato is larger than a cherry tomato. When selecting a pepper variety, the best choice for children would be a standard bell pepper. This would avoid them biting into something hot or burning their hands or eyes from the residue of a hot pepper.
So dear friends, this summer help your children plant and tend their garden. Your time spent “planting seeds” will bring extraordinary rewards to you both. Because, you see, when the “little ones” become young adults and for the rest of their lives, every summer their childhood will return. Enjoy the moments!
See you soon,
- All the flowers, herbs and vegetables mentioned should be planted in full sun.
- Online Source for Gardening Supplies: www.gardeners.com
- Check the back of seed packets. Packaged for 2016 or current year should always be stamped on the packet.