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Growing and gardening

March 24, 2011
By Stephanie Bethke-DeJaeghere

Generations of gardening all come together each spring. Planting as a family and living life together as a family gives us roots, and our children are its branches.

My grandparents and parents have been gone a long time but their knowledge lives on within me as well as my children's grandparents who are still with us today, teaching about everything. The knowledge that we pass on to our children is a precious commodity and one that it seemed, until recently, was a long forgotten tradition.

It is fun to see when one of my children takes the seeds from my hands and the seed starting pots, and tells me, "I want to do it, by myself," then pesters me every day why the seeds have not come up. It is particularly funny when I tell them it will take a week and much to my surprise and to their amusement, the seeds come up in just a few days. Certainly, mom as a gardener must be off "her game."

This is what exactly happened when we planted several packages of marigold seeds. I have learned the past few years that my green thumb might wane a little bit as my oldest son, seems to be stealing it from me as he attempts each year to plant a little bit of garden each spring. The next one has a green touch when it comes to his passion: raspberries. We have never had so many raspberries to pick and eat since he has taken over the patch. He is quick to remind us that we should say "prize winning" raspberries since each time he as entered them in some open class competition, he has won grand prize. I think the price to pay will be dear this year for those raspberries. And then, there is our littlest one of all. "I want to do it" has become her mantra this spring.

There are times when we need to take our children by the hand. Let it be your neighbor kids, your nieces or nephews, grandsons or granddaughters; kids love to garden. This is the time to step up to the plate and show a child that they can garden in a simple, small way or a larger way; depending on your time and talents. It sometimes depends, too, on how much time they have as well. Kids are so busy these days that gardening may prove to be a calm, relaxing activity for many especially our teens. Kids need to know where our food comes from. It might surprise you how many, even in our own neighborhoods will tell you it comes from the "kitchen" or the "grocery store" but what they don't know is they can grow their own food or flowers, for that matter right in their backyard. In an apartment, containers work well for a small garden.

Have a large plot? Invite as many kids over to help as are willing to come. The garden may not look like something you perceived and the kids will definitely make it their own. But, it is theirs and they will do everything they can to take home that first pumpkin, tomato or potato from that garden. There is a certain amount of empowerment that it gives kids along with just being outside, away from the TV, video games or other electronics. Once you get kids outside, they learn a lot more about gardening and also about who they are themselves. And take it from me, there will be those days that you have to put a lot of effort to get them outside, but once they are out there, doing things that they find out are actually a lot of fun, the next time, it won't be quite so hard.

There is much to teach our children and the first step is with all of the sage gardeners that live in our area. So, this year, find a child or children who are interested in learning about growing something in the great outdoors and then keep that promise and show them how fun it really can be.

Mark your calendars for Garden Day with the Lyon County Master Gardeners on April 16. Details will be coming for this event. And also Extending the Growing Season Day, April 7 and Horticulture Day on April 29 at the Southwest Research and Outreach Center in Lamberton.

For more information, please call (507) 752-7372. For more information on gardening, you can reach me at



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