06 July 2011


Gardening is not one of my strengths.

I get how to do it and I understand why plants fail to thrive under my care. Ultimately, I know that it takes time and attention and consistency.

I am not inherantly weak in the areas of time, attention and consistency. But, because I am try to be consistent in other areas of my life (parenting, sewing, cooking, etc.), my green thumb turns brown and shrivels up.

And I don't like to be bad at things. I really love to be excellent at anything that I tackle. (Yes, there's my type-A coming out.) And, since I know I can't be excellent in the gardening department, I have chosen not to dive in head first with a field of raised bed gardens every spring only to watch them choke and die due to my inattention.

It's best and I'm okay with it. There will be a season in my life in which I will be wholly devoted to gardens and raising vegetables from seeds. It will be glorious but it will not be today.

BUT.... but, but, but... there are some particular benefits of gardening which I am not prepared to miss sharing with Oliver. We can buy our veggies at the farmers market and pick up flowers on the cheap at the grocery store. But I do not want my little wide-eyed boy to miss out on the hands-on experience and miracle of watching a seed grow into food for his body. There are some lessons to be learned here and my brown thumb is no excuse for taking a pass on them.


So. I know my limits but I also see my opportunity. Every Spring for the past several years I have taken Oliver to the garden store and we've chosen a seed packet to grow together.

Every Spring we find a place to plant our seeds (usually somewhere in the front or back landscaping since we don't have dedicated garden space - a little hillbilly, yes. But it's got to go somewhere!) and as we plant them we talk about the science of what happens to them underground. (This is fun because every year the science of it all makes more sense and our conversations are more interesting and full of questions.)

Not only do we get to talk about the science of gardening, but we also get to talk together about Who sends the rain and makes the sun shine. We get to talk together about the Creator and how he created this food to grow to nourish the people he created to serve Him.

These seeds grow up and bring glory to their Maker!


This year Oliver chose to grow carrots. (Here are the peas we grew two years ago.) They sprouted quickly and in no time we were seeing the leafy tops reaching high out of the ground - an indication that sweet orange roots were digging deep into the earth.

We decided to harvest our carrots a little early this year because, as you can imagine, they were beginning to look a little ridiculous and unruly in our landscaping. (We really do need to dedicate a little garden area in our yard for our yearly gardening attempts.) We made the call since we have a big party planned for this weekend (my birthday weekend!) and we needed to pull things together to make the flower bed look like a flower bed and not a wild field.

We had a great time pulling them up (so pleasing!) and we plan to roast them with olive oil and parsley for lunch today. Yum!

Sure, they could have grown a lot longer if I had let them be, but this is what I get for my poor planning.

I love this sweet tradition I have started with my little boy. It's not perfect, but it's important. So we do it.

After all, G.K. Chesterton said:

"Anything worth doing is worth doing badly"

We did't do anything spectacular. We didn't even do it very well. But, Oliver has developed a love for planting and gardening and an appreciation for the food he eats and an understanding of how it grows. And that is worth doing.


Here's to many more years of growing vegetables badly because it's better than not doing it at all! (Or, to stepping out in faith and attempting a real, grown-up garden someday!)

What is something in your life today that is worth "doing badly" instead of not at all?


About Us: said...

those carrots do not look like you are doing anything "badly".

fun little tradition.

gardening, like so much that requires nurturing, is so rewarding.

cheers friend.

Celeste said...

You did a great job! They look just the way they should coming out of a garden. Carrots aren't the easiest thing to grow. You have to have your soil tilled deep & a fast rain can wash them away. Teaching your children how to grow something is the most important.

JCF said...

Those carrots look great! We just moved into a house with a yard this week after many years of city apartment living. I had visions of a vegetable garden with a spectacular harvest, but alas, this is a CITY house with a smallish yard that is VERY shaded by huge 100 year old trees. So I decided to garden badly, as you said, and will start with a few herbs and small vegetable plants in containers on my porch. Also, my kids are 3, 2, and 1 so I have found that I need to set my expectations a lot lower than I used to.

Emily said...

I am so with you! I can do fine with my flowers and such in the landscaping but I KNOW I don't have time to devote to gardening. My son and I go to the farmers market and at least let him pick out some veggies he wants to eat. Last week he got a "squish" (squash) and are planning to bake them in cornmeal. Lets them be more curious and try knew veggies and fruits. Although my son is a veggie fiend.

Ashley said...

We grew up having a huge vegetable garden every year and I miss it! It's a lot of work but so rewarding. I'd say my sewing is worth doing badly... I can be so impatient to finish a project so I hurry and it ends up messy, but at least I am actually attempting and getting practice! You would be appalled at my crooked stitches! Haha.

Sarah-Anne said...

congrats on your harvest! those carrots look amazing & make me hungry for hummus!! :D

i'm HORRIBLE with plants, but the first few years that we've lived at our current house, we had a thriving garden and filled buckets & buckets full of squash and ate watermelon for breakfast each and every day. i miss those days!

also: happy early birthday, friend!! i won't be at a computer this weekend to wish you a happy birthday {when is it again??} so i hope you have a wonderful day celebrating YOU!! ::virtual bday hug:: :)

Alyssa said...

Those carrots look great! You can garden better than you give yourself credit for! This is our 2nd year to have a garden up at my grandpa's just up the hill from us, and I'm no gardener! I started out keeping it looking nice, but it got hot, and now resembles a weed patch more than a garden! But that mess of a garden has yielded some yummy radishes, lettuce, green beans and zucchini, and I can't wait for the rest to grow!

Kimberly Canada said...

Fun story - We planted a garden consistently until we became parents. When our kids were old enough to understand the planting process, we did a small garden with them.

My little boy decided to "check" the carrots!! He would pull them out and say, "nope, not done yet!" and put them back in and assume they would continue to grow! It was soooo cute! We had ALOT of tiny carrots that year!

Anonymous said...

My honey's grandma just had a 5-bypass surgery about two months ago now. The day before she realized something was wrong with her heart, she had planted a HUGE garden. Needless to say, she can't take care of it this summer and I volunteered to do so. It's been a great experience for honey and I to do together, since he never had a garden when he was growing up! Plus, being able to bless her just makes it 9000x better.

As far as "doing badly" goes, my latest attempt is teaching myself how to sew. So far, the attempts look rough, but I kind of like the "roughness," so maybe doing it "badly" is worth it!c

Faux Country said...

The push ups and sit ups that I just did for the first time in years. I'm not sure my form was just right but I feel GREAT!

Your carrots are beautiful, by the way, and indeed, your tradition is sweet.

Karen G. said...

Good job!!